Conservative ministers know that the automatic payment of trade union subscriptions from salaries is achieved by a simple keystroke these days – it is absolutely no burden on employers.
Their plan to stop public sector workers from paying in this manner should therefore be seen as what it is – a sulky, ill-tempered attack on the workforce for daring to belong to a workers’ representative organisation.
The process is not outdated – it’s bang-up-to-date.
Ending it would not give workers more control – they have control now, simply by saying that they are union members and they want their subscriptions taken from their salaries.
Ending it would increase the burden on workers’ already-limited personal time – they would have to go through the time-consuming process of creating direct debits from their bank accounts.
This is a waste of time for everybody involved.
The purpose is obvious – reduce union funding, making it more difficult for them to take industrial action, as the Conservative Government’s unnecessary attack on workers intensifies over the next few years.
The philosophy is that workers are lazy, and won’t be bothered to create the direct debits necessary to keep the funds flowing to the unions.
It seems unlikely that the plan will be hard-fought in Parliament. Let’s face it, New Labour was hardly union-friendly, despite receiving a great deal of funding from them.
If this proposal is enacted, then it will be up to the unions to make sure members can make the change quickly and easily – most probably by drawing up the direct debit agreement for them, so all they have to do is check it, sign and deliver it.
Clever union leaders will also use this as a springboard for a membership drive, pointing out that it can only be a prelude to further attacks on the UK’s workforce.
Are you going to fight this erosion of your rights – or are you just going to bend over for the Conservatives and let them do whatever they want to you?
Plans to stop public sector workers automatically paying subscriptions to trade unions through their salaries have been unveiled by the government.
Ministers say the process is “outdated” and ending it would give workers more control and save more than £6m a year by cutting employers’ administration.
But unions could lose funds and say it is a “vindictive political attack” that will “poison industrial relations”.
It follows plans for reforms of union laws, including tighter strike rules.
Civil servants, teachers and nurses are among the union members who will have to arrange for the fees to be collected from their bank accounts by direct debit, under the proposals to update legislation in the Trade Union Bill.The government says the so-called check-off system of taking union dues through wages was introduced at a time when many workers did not have bank accounts.
It said it was now a “taxpayer-funded administrative burden” on employers.
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