Tories stir up union trouble in Civil Service

Liberal Democrats have described a move by Conservative ministers to stop Whitehall departments deducting trade union subscriptions from civil servants’ pay packets as a “vindictive attack.” Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has written to departments urging them to end the “check-off” system of deducting union subs through Whitehall’s payroll system, but his request is set to be ignored in ministries headed by Lib Dems. A leading advocate of ending “check-off” is Eric Pickles, who last year lost a court case when he tried to scrap the system in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Today’s Press:- i, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 15 Daily Mirror, Page: 11

As someone who spent many years working for the trade union movement in the Civil Service I understand what this ‘check-off’ system is about. For generations Civil Servants have paid their union subscriptions via direct deductions from their monthly salaries/wages by the Government Dep’t they work for. The money is then paid over to the appropriate trade union they belong to.

Also for generations, despite the odd Thatcher type blip, Governments have encouraged Civil Servants to join trade unions. This, in general, has enabled the Civil Service to have fairly reasonable industrial relations.

Why on earth the Tories want to cause industrial strife in the Civil Service via this petty idea of stopping the collection of union subs baffles me. It can only be driven by that infamous ‘them and us’ approach to industrial relations that has bedeviled the UK for so many years. A good employer embraces good industrial relations; the success of the German economy since the Second World War proves that.

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.