The Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, looks set to become the most powerful trade union leader since Arthur Scargill, after authorising formal merger talks to take over the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
Labour and trade union sources fear that Mr McCluskey is effectively creating his own working-class movement in a deal that will enable 245,000 civil servants at the PCS to join the 1.1 million members of Unite by January. PCS is politically neutral, but Unite is affiliated to the Labour Party.
A senior Labour MP said: “This is utterly unique. It actually makes McCluskey more powerful than Scargill, and gives him members in areas like the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police.”
Mr McCluskey recently warned that Labour could lose Unite’s support if Ed Miliband does not produce a left-leaning general election manifesto and if it loses in 2015.