Media union Bectu to merge into engineering counterpart Prospect taking membership to 140,000

Oliver Gill
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The Prospect union has been in dispute with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) (Source: Getty)

Entertainment and media workers union Bectu will be swallowed by Prospect, the UK's largest engineer-dedicated union.

Prospect numbers will swell to 140,000 following the merger which will go live from 1 January, putting it firmly inside the top 15 largest unions in the country and almost double in size of the likes of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union currently hitting the headlines in the Southern rail dispute.

Read more: Union uproar over ITV plans to close pension scheme

“Joining forces puts us in the strongest possible position to deal with the challenges we face as well as securing the best possible service for the combined membership,” said Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy.

Atomic problems

In November, Prospect workers voted in favour of industrial action following a dispute with the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). Similar to other firms in 2016 such as ITV and Marks and Spencer, AWE wanted to close its defined benefit pension scheme.

Read more: You've got to be coaching: unions blast Southern rail owners

AWE's only major customer is the Ministry of Defence and in a situation with parallels to the Southern rail dispute, the MoD refused to get involved with negotiations directly with the unions, according to Prospect.

“The Ministry of Defence is the owner of this facility, AWE’s only customer and has direct involvement in the governance of this pension scheme. Ministers have the ability to intervene and resolve this situation to everyone’s satisfaction," said Prospect negotiator Richard Tabbner.

Read more: Union leaders are their own worst enemy

Meanwhile, the news of the merger, about which 83 per cent of Bectu members voted in favour of, made sense because of the crossover that currently exists between the two unions according to Prospect.

“The two unions have much in common, not least in our expertise in the fields of communications and media, and we will quickly adapt to working together, with both organisations being the product of previous successful mergers," said Clancy.

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