PCS union launches legal action against Home Office over check-off removal

Earlier this year PCS successfully concluded a protracted indirect discrimination legal claim on behalf of members. That claim, which that went all the way to the Supreme Court, resulted in more than £1 million compensation being awarded to members within the department who alleged they had been discriminated against.

It has just been announced that the union has launched new legal proceedings about the Home Office’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the check-off system for the payment of union subscriptions, even though the union offered to pay for any costs associated with the system.

According to the PCS website PCS’ General Secretary Mark Serwotka has commented that

“A deep moral and financial injustice was done to our members which was a deliberate attempt to bankrupt PCS.

… The removal of check-off was politically motivated, aimed at undermining the union’s ability to defend its members’ jobs and to effectively oppose the Tory government’s devastating austerity programme.

Instead of negotiating with the union properly, Ministers thought it more expedient to unlawfully target us financially.”

In a separate action PCS have recently secured £3 million in an out of court settlement for the Department of Work and Pension’s similar decision to remove check-off from members and a policy of the Conservative government to place union finances under scrutiny and so weaken the ability to defend members’ rights. This is of course a marked contrast with the noises coming out of the Labour Party at the moment with the Shadow employment secretary Laura Pidcock recently explaining on Sky News that that “We know that there are so many people who are in fear in the workplace in essence … They have little power, there’s little worker voice and what we are saying is we would facilitate a system whereby those people would have much more voice through their trade union representatives.”

At the time of the DWP judgement PCS declared that it would pursue cases against other major government employers and in the last Delegate Conference my branch had submitted a motion, unfortunately guillotined, that the union should inform reps on what further claims were planned and also that they should commit that at least one third of any funds won by the union should be ring-fenced for the union’s fighting fund. Hopefully the news of this new action is the first of a number of claims.