Unions hit out at “spiteful” government following change to subs collection

6 Aug 15

Public sector trade unions have labelled government plans to end the ‘check off’ system for collecting subscriptions as “spiteful” and “malicious”.

The move by business minister Matthew Hancock would end the practice by which union subscriptions are deducted at source by public sector employers from members’ pay and passed to unions.

Hancock said this carried an administrative cost to taxpayers and could be replaced by union members setting up direct debits.

He said the ‘check off’ dated from an era when few employees had bank accounts and was now unnecessary.

“In the 21st century era of direct debits and digital payments, public resources should not be used to support the collection of trade union subscriptions.” the minister said.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis called the announcement the “latest malicious manoeuvre from ministers”.

He said: “Anyone with a job in the public sector must wonder why the government dislikes them so much that it is set on a series of such spiteful attacks on them through their unions.

“Allowing union subs to be taken directly from peoples’ salaries is convenient for individual employees, their unions and their employers – and it works well in both the public and private sectors of the economy.”

Prentis said in many cases unions paid public employers to collect the subscriptions so no cost fell on taxpayers.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This is another spiteful measure from the Conservatives at a time when working people need unions like never before.

“It is a crude attempt to starve trade unions of money, money that is then used every day to promote training, workplace safety and hold up decent pay for millions of working people throughout the UK.”

At the TUC, assistant general secretary Paul Nowak said: “If payroll payment for union membership was out-dated as ministers claim, it would not be popular with so many of the UK's biggest private companies with positive union relations.”

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