Communities secretary Eric Pickles is the subject of legal action in the High Court after he refused to back down in a confrontation over union busting, Political Scrapbook can reveal. As this blog reported last week, Pickles plans to clamp down on union membership by abolishing the “check off” system used to collect subscriptions — even if the unions pay the small administration costs.
Flying in the face of DCLG’s own advice that local authorities should charge unions rather than scrap the programme, the move makes a mockery of claims that anti-union reforms are merely aimed at cost saving. And while the move will save no money whatsoever, the legal bill for defending Pickles’ ruse will likely run into thousands of pounds.
A source familiar with the situation told Scrapbook:
“Senior DCLG officials have confirmed check off costs just £9.40 a month to administer for each of the three unions represented in the department – a total of £28.20 a month.”
With mooted plans to abolish check off across government, it may be no coincidence that Pickles’ department’s top civil servant Bob Kerslake is also the head of the civil service.
You can read the legal letter from PCS’ lawyers below.