BECTU members have backed the planned merger with Prospect, by posting an overwhelming vote in favour. The ballot closed on 30 August 2016 with 83.4% of members voting in favour and 16.6% against. The merger will come into effect on 1 January 2017.

BECTU will become the largest sector within the merged Prospect union when its 27,000 members join with 14,000 members in Prospect’s Communications Media and Digital division, where BT is the biggest of several employers. The new 40,000-plus sector will continue to have industrial autonomy within the new union, with its own executive reporting to the union-wide and enlarged Prospect executive.

Commenting on the members’ vote Gerry Morrissey, BECTU’s general secretary, said:

“Today’s decision by BECTU members will strengthen the new BECTU sector going forward. The pooling of our resources and experience with those of our new colleagues in Prospect will enable BECTU to provide an even better service for members; we’ll also be able to reach out to even more of the 1000s of creative sector workers across media and entertainment who need advice and representation.”

Support for the merger became official union policy at BECTU’s conference in May this year after two years of talks and internal consultations. The central rationale for the merger was to strengthen the union’s foundations given the long-standing deficit in the staff pension scheme, an issue which challenges the majority of organisations with established defined benefit pension arrangements.

With additional resources , BECTU, as part of Prospect, will be freed up to build on its organising success. Membership of BECTU grew 12% in the two years to 2015, a proud, hard won achievement for a specialist union, providing services to both staff and freelancers across a broad sector.

Today, Prospect is 115,000 strong and supports members across a large swathe of the public and private sectors. In the new union, BECTU will retain its own identity and its own website having established a distinctive character in the media and entertainment industries  during its 25 years.

Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said:

 “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.

“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.

Gerry Morrissey continued:

“The NEC and I are proud of what we, our members and reps, have achieved in 25 years of organising and campaigning. However, very soon, together with our colleagues in Prospect, we will begin building on our current strengths to create a new union which workers in our sectors, both new and established, will join with enthusiasm knowing that through workplace organisation we can improve their working lives.”