Government drops trade union bill proposal on check-off

Union leaders welcome change but remain deeply opposed to the bill


In a significant step-down on the trade union bill, the government has dropped its plans to stop unions from collecting members’ subscriptions directly via their their pay packets.

The abolition of the so-called ‘check-off’ system was highly controversial, since it posed a significant threat to union income. UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis described it as ‘among the most mean-spirited’ proposals in the trade union bill.

Welcoming the news of the government’s u-turn, Prentis commented:

“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.”

Frances O’ Grady, TUC General Secretary, commented:

‘Banning workers from choosing to pay union subs in a convenient way through their payroll would, as many have warned, damaged industrial relations and morale in key services. Today’s decision is the result of months of union and TUC lobbying – and we are glad of the support from peers of all parties and none.’

Today is day two of report stage consideration of the trade union bill in the House of Lords. Other aspects of the bill will be debated later this evening, before it returns to the House of Commons next week.

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