The ballot of BECTU members on the BECTU/Prospect merger gets underway on Monday 27 June 2016 and will close at noon on Tuesday 30 August.
At the union's May 2016 annual conference representatives voted overwhelming in favour of the merger and backed a proposal to put the issues to a vote of the union's membership.
Campaign schedule & materials
- Gerry Morrissey, BECTU's general secretary, will be writing to all members on 22 June 2016 putting the case for the Yes vote (the rules for this type of ballot mean that Gerry's letter must be posted separately from the ballot paper, and associated materials).
- The ballot paper and the Instrument of Transfer document will be posted to all members by ERS (Electoral Reform Services) on Monday 27 June.
- Attached to this page for the use and reference of BECTU reps and members is a flyer and poster for local use. If you'd like hard copies do drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org telling us how many you need, and where to post them, and we'll get them out to you promptly.
- Also attached to this page for your reference is a copy of the Prospect Rulebook.
- Use the email address above too if you have any queries about the ballot materials or any questions; please include your membership number and home address if your question is about a missing ballot paper.
- All new members joining during the period of the ballot - up to 23 August 2016 - will receive a vote. A weekly list of new joiners will be shared with ERS who will issue the ballot materials.
This page will carry more info on the ballot and the merger proposals as needs be. BECTU is urging all members to use their vote and to vote yes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Entitlement to vote
Q: Who is entitled to vote?
A: All BECTU members will be entitled to vote and BECTU hopes that everyone with a vote will use it. New members who join by 23 August 2016 will also be provided with a vote. Follow the instructions on the ballot paper and return the voting slip in the envelope provided. To be counted all ballot papers must be received at ERS by 12 noon on Tuesday 30 August 2016.
Disaffiliation from the Labour Party
Q: Disaffiliation from the Labour Party is a condition of the merger; how will members continue to be represented in the political sphere?
A: The union’s negotiators regret the fact that disaffiliation from the Labour Party is a condition of the merger but the union respects the political independence of Prospect which arises from their represention of workers in the Civil Service and their broader membership. That said, BECTU, within Prospect, will continue to lobby the political parties on issues and industrial matters of importance to our membership. BECTU will continue to access the Labour Party leader but we wouldn’t be at Party conferences, nor would we vote in Labour Party leadership elections after this year if the BECTU/Prospect merger is approved.
The Labour Party employs a trade union liaison official to liaise with all trade unions, including those we work with which are not affiliated to the Labour Party, such as Equity and the NUJ. The BECTU sector within Prospect will make use of this official and will have access to the Prospect Political Fund to support our political work. Prospect has a well-established record of political lobbying and engagement on behalf of their members and BECTU will work within that context to deliver for members.
Prospect's interest in BECTU
Q: Why does Prospect want to merge with BECTU?
A: Prospect believes BECTU will make them a stronger union with a greater voice on the political scene. Prospect also respects BECTU's work on behalf of freelancers and believes our expertise in this area will be of benefit to their organisation.
Prospect general secretary, Mike Clancy, has said: “A ‘Yes’ vote would see a merger of equals and I firmly believe it would make both unions stronger and would therefore be in the interests of both. Prospect and BECTU have much in common. We need to respect each other’s cultures and recognise there is a great deal we can learn from each other. BECTU will retain a strong identity within the merged union and will become the largest sector of the union.”
Prospect currently has 115, 000 members who like in BECTU are organised within a federal structure. If the merger is approved the new BECTU - BECTU's current 27,000 members plus 14,000 members in Prospect's Communications Media and Digital sector, where the largest employer is BT - would form the largest sector in the merged union. Find our more about Prospect.
BECTU and the TUC
Q: Will BECTU’s involvement in the TUC and its specialist conferences continue?
A: Yes. If members approve the merger, our internal equality committees will not change except they will expand to include representation from the Communications and Digital division of the new BECTU sector of Prospect. Representation after January 2017 to all external conferences will be decided by the Prospect NEC and the delegations will represent Prospect as a whole. BECTU officials are confident that BECTU reps will be part of those delegations.
More FAQs will be added to this list as the ballot process continues.
Annual Conference decision May 2016
Here is an extract from the news story posted on 15 May after annual conference. Read the full journal report on annual conference published in June. (Document also attached to this page).
The decision to take the long-running discussions about a merger to the next critical stage - the all-important vote amongst BECTU members - concluded a two-hour long debate at annual conference in Eastbourne on Saturday 14 May.
Standing orders were suspended to allow union representatives, who packed the conference hall, to hear from the union's senior officers, led by Gerry Morrissey, general secretary. A comprehensive statement on the reasons for the proposed merger, including a detailed explanation of how BECTU would be run post-merger, assuming a vote in favour, formed the centrepiece of a debate in which several representatives spoke both in opposition to, and in favour of, the change.
The right move
Gerry Morrissey, speaking on behalf of the NEC, explained that security for BECTU members' long term interests lay at the heart of the proposal for the merger. The continuing deficit in the staff pension scheme - a familar source of difficulty for organisations country-wide - would continue to hold the union back if no change was made, he said. The merger, at a time when BECTU was performing well, was considered to be the right move to secure the union for the longer term. Additional organising resources for BECTU would also result.
Several reps asked whether Prospect was the right union to merge with. Isn't it right-wing? Where's the industrial logic? Others encouraged their fellow reps not to fear amalgamation. BECTU, celebrating its 25th birthday in 2016, was itself the product of several mergers, each of which brought diverse cultures together.
It was made clear that in order for the merger to take place, BECTU would have to end its affilation to the Labour Party as well as its affiliation to CND. Prospect is not politically affiliated as its organisation in the Civil Service requires political neutrality. Prospect also organises members in the nuclear industry. Not surprisingly, these conditions were viewed as controversial, however, some reps were reassured that the loss of these affiliations would not prevent BECTU from being either politically active, or from engaging across the political spectrum, to press the case for members.
Concerns were expressed too about the rights of branches to mount campaigns for industrial action. Would Prospect's executive block moves by BECTU section branches? Gerry Morrissey explained that requests for industrial action ballots would need to go before the Prospect executive but that he did not believe that permission would be unreasonably witheld. Whilst the two unions may have different traditions, they are both trade unions, it was said, with a responsibility to support members in their struggle to improve terms and conditions.
Last page update 66 August 2016.