7 August 2015
The government’s attempt to stop public sector workers paying their union membership fees through payroll is without justification.
Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock said the check-off system was “outdated”. He said; “Public resources should not be used to support the collection of trade union subscriptions.”
It is not difficult, however, to see the move for what it is – a petty bid to further limit the unions.
The Tories have claimed that checkoff costs the taxpayer £6.2m – an unsubstantiated figure released by unnamed Tory sources. There has been no detailing of how this figure was arrived at.
As former treasurer Danny Alexander acknowledged in a letter to Whitehall ministers in July 2014 – there is no fiscal case for axing check-off as unions have declared they are willing to pay the difference. UNISON already renumerates hospitals and councils. It has been estimated that the process of scrapping checkoff will cost around £1m.
TUC Assistant General Secretary Paul Nowak said;
“If payroll payment for union membership was outdated, it would not be popular with so many of the UK’s biggest and most successful private companies.
“The public will see this for what it really is – yet another attack on union members from a government that is determined to rebalance power in the workplace so that workers lose their voice and their rights. And it goes hand-in-hand with new proposals that threaten the right to strike.
“Instead of going out of their way to poison industrial relations, the government should work positively with workers and their representatives for the good of public services and the economy.”
UNISON’s General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “This latest malicious manoeuvre from ministers shows how far they are prepared to go to deny nurses, care workers, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners and town hall staff a voice at work.
“Anyone with a job in the public sector must wonder why the government dislikes them so much.”