The Conservative party's plan to end the collection of trade union subscriptions through salaries is a "blinkered political attack", the Public and Commercial Services union says. In his speech at the Conservative party conference today, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the system known as check-off is being stopped at short notice in the Home Office and other departments are actively considering banning it.
But we're told the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has written to all Secretaries of State and Permanent Secretaries to confirm there is "no fiscal case" for removing check-off and that unions have offered to meet the costs "which are in any case minimal". "There is no public policy case to do this in any department across Whitehall," he adds.
Mr Alexander also reminds his cabinet colleagues that the union successfully fought a high court case last year against Eric Pickles' attempt to remove check-off in the Department for Communities and Local Government, and states the Treasury will not fund any departments' legal costs in defending similar cases.
Many large employers in the private as well as public sector use the method because they recognise the benefits of having good industrial relations and the benefits of trade unions to society. Charities and other organisations also collect subscriptions through salaries and these are being allowed to continue in the civil service.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With the Treasury confirming there is no financial or policy necessity, it is impossible to see this as anything other than a blinkered political attack on trade unions. Many modern employers allow unions to use this convenient and simple method because they recognise the huge benefits of having good industrial relations."