The government has withdrawn plans to ban public service workers from having their union subs deducted from their wages.
As the House of Lords started its report stage debate on the Trade Union Bill last night, Cabinet Office minister Lord Bridges confirmed that the government was withdrawing the plans to end check-off in the public sector and civil service.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, who led the extensive lobbying campaign in both the House of Lords and the Commons, welcomed the move, saying the bill is still flawed, but today’s move “is a real improvement”.
He added: “I’m really proud of UNISON and the campaign we’ve run on check-off: persistence and focus paid off.”
Commenting on the announcement last night, Mr Prentis said: “There’s much that’s wrong with the Trade Union Bill, but banning unions from using the check-off system to collect membership fees from employees in the public sector was among the most mean-spirited of all its proposals.
“But thanks to a good deal of union campaigning behind the scenes, UNISON and the TUC have built an effective coalition in the Lords that persuaded the government a ban would be both unjustified and unnecessary.
“Now at least UNISON can concentrate on campaigning to protect public sector employees at work and the services they deliver, safe in the knowledge that it will not have to spend the next year running around workplaces with direct debit forms for fear of losing much of its income.
“Employers and unions across the public sector will have breathed a collective sigh of relief at today’s news that there has been a sensible change of heart in Westminster.
“And there’s no cost to the public purse as a result of this decision.”