UPDATE: PCS say they will sue Pickles over the changes unless he backs down, saying the changes are a breach of contract for staff: “Hopefully he will now see sense and not waste any taxpayers’ money trying to defend a legal case that we believe is cut and dried.”
While the government has been careful to frame many attacks on trade unions as cost-saving, Eric Pickles’ new flank against his own employees has been exposed as a right-wing attack which does not save a penny.
Earlier this year, Pickles announced plans to reform the “check off” system, in which employees who want to sign up to a trade union can have their monthly subscription deducted directly from their pay packet.
In guidance issued to councils, the department said:
“Councils can exercise existing legal rights to charge trade unions for the collection of trade union subscription fees via the municipal payroll (so-called ‘check off’ arrangements).”
While local authorities manage their own relationships with unions, Scrapbook can confirm that the option of charging was never on the table for PCS members employed directly from Whitehall — contrary to the department’s own guidance that unions should be given the option of covering administrative costs.
This isn’t slashing costs — it’s slashing the number of organised employees.