An attack we’ve seen off before

Trying to stop nurses, care workers, teaching assistants, hospital cleaners and town hall staff from paying their union subs directly from their wages is an attack we’ve defeated before and one which we will overcome again.

It is yet another malicious attack from a government determined to deny ordinary working people a voice at work.

But it’s an attack we expected, and one we’ve seen off before.

The last government talked about it and we responded with detailed evidence which forced Danny Alexander to concede that there was no saving at all to the public purse in forcing employers to remove the payment system, known as Deduction of Contributions at Source (DOCAS) or check-off.

Allowing union subs to be taken directly from people’s salary is a modern and convenient way to manage regular payments. Unions often pay the employer for this service, meaning there is no cost paid by the public purse.

The government knows this, so the plan reveals the intention to weaken public service unions and deny working people a voice at work. The evidence shows that employees in workplaces with strong unions are likely to earn more, be better trained and have safer working conditions.

UNISON has been preparing for this move and we will mount a determined campaign with employers, politicians and opinion-formers.

As UNISON general secretary, I will be leading this work but we will need to work together across the whole union, with real unity of purpose, to beat this latest assault. We are already putting together action plans at both regional and national level.

If we act together as one union, I know that we can rise to this challenge, build a stronger union and continue to speak up for our members.