I was wondering when this was going to break. From Molesworth and Featherston this morning (offline, subscription only):
Two private-sector unions are poised to join forces, potentially creating a major new force in industrial relations.
Sources say that the Service and Food Workers’ Union and the National Distribution Union reached a heads-of-agreement last week over an amalgamation proposal, and are even considering inviting Matt McCarten’s Unite to be part of the new super-union.
A merger has logic, bringing together workers across the service and manufacturing sectors into a union of around 35,000 members, with all the associated benefits of scale and pooled resources.
One of the things the left will need to consider seriously is what this means for the SFWU’s affiliation to the Labour Party. The SFWU is currently the Labour Party’s second largest affiliate, and ties between the two have been so strong that even Alliance stalwart Jill Ovens was pressured by the union to join the party before taking up her position as Northern Regional Secretary. One can’t imagine Laila Harre or Matt McCarten being as keen to throw their lot in with Labour. Word has it the SFWU’s National Secretary John Ryall has made affiliation to the party a bottom-line for amalgamation, but it’s an open question whether Ryall is in much of a position to push this through.
If the three unions can sort their shit out and work together this will be a good thing for the union movement. As the EPMU (another beast created from a series of amalgamations) has shown, a super-union’s economies of scale make for a far more effective campaigning and organising machine. It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses.