We are hearing strong rumours that DWP may announce in the week beginning 31 March that notice will be given that check off will end in that department. Apparently the union is negotiating the length of that notice and what access, if any, union activists and full timers will have to members in the work place to move them over to Direct Debit (DD). Of course the worry must be that there will be a domino effect and other departments follow DWP’s example.
Obviously a very short notice period, six weeks was being mooted at one time, would capitulate the union into a full scale financial crisis. Of course that is what Francis Maude and Eric Pickles want. For Eric Pickles though, the real prize is UNSION. His department sent out guidance to councils some while back telling them to consider ending check off. If that happened on any large scale then that union would be in very serious trouble.
The Tories want to end unions; they may believe that stopping check off is one way of doing that, or at least a way of weakening and distracting them from campaigning.
If departments end check off then it will be all hands to the pumps as we switch members to DD. Of course the wider lesson has to be learned that the union should think ahead. When Eric Pickles sent out the guidance mentioned above, the IL raised the danger it posed; though not strongly enough. But then again we are activists, holding down day jobs as well as running branches and groups. We don’t have the luxury of being able to think about, and do, union work all the time. Nor be paid huge amounts of money for doing so!
Of course another lesson is that the Tories play the class war to win; unfortunately the union movement as a whole does not seem to understand that, or if it does, doesn’t act accordingly.