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by Tom Freeman
06 August 2015
Trade union fee plan ‘draconian’ says STUC

Trade union fee plan ‘draconian’ says STUC

Scottish trade unions have attacked plans by the UK government to stop public sector workers automatically paying trade union dues through their salaries.

Currently employers administer the fees, known as ‘check off’.

The proposals, which form part of the new Trade Union Bill at Westminster, would see civil servants and workers in hospitals and schools have to make their own arrangements for direct debits to pay for trade union membership.

Cabinet Office Minister Matt Hancock said public resources should not be used to support the collection of trade union subscriptions.

“It’s time to get rid of this outdated practice and modernise the relationship between trade unions and their members,” he said.

Scottish Trades Union Congress General Secretary Grahame Smith said he was seeking “urgent clarification” to see whether the changes would apply to devolved Scottish public sector departments.

The plan is an “attempt to poison the employer/employee relationship” when progress had been made in industrial relations in Scotland, according to Smith.

“Taking away the right of public sector employees to choose to have their union dues deducted at source is another attack on their basic rights and a naked attempt to tie up unions in red-tape to inhibit the effective representation of our members. 

“Payroll payments for union membership are simple and popular and utilised by many of our biggest and most successful private companies. Any move to compel public sector employers to abandon such payroll deductions would be an attack on them too,” he said.

A number of central government departments including the Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs and Ministry of Defence have already removed check off.

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