Last week I reported the news that Francis Maude had written to all civil service Departments asking them to consider ending the “check off system” of collecting union subscriptions via the payroll. To date there has been no official news issued by the PCS union nationally, though the National Executive Committee(NEC) has now discussed the implications of such a policy.
According to information received, all Departments are under “serious pressure” to comply with Maude’s directive, and Ian Duncan Smith is more than keen to implement this within weeks. With the exception of the Department of Transport (Dft), there is no legal barrier other than a requirement to give due notice of withdrawal of the facility, to removing the check off scheme.
Undoubtedly this will be a serious blow to all the unions in the civil service and sets a precedent for Local Government to follow suit as the Coalition Government continues its’ anti-trade union drive. However it is likely that PCS of all the unions will be put in the most difficult position. PCS is already in the midst of a serious financial crisis and is a moving factor behind the desire of some to merge with Unite.
Whether Unite would either want or be able to take on the cash strapped PCS is of course another matter.
According to a paper at the PCS NEC if they manage to retain even 95% of the current membership that will mean a shortfall of £1,000,000 a year. Of course there is a strong possibility in both the current economic and political climate that PCS could shed a far greater percentage of it’s members than just 5%.
Many members are known to be unhappy with the way the union is run and that combined with the continued desire of the PCS’s far-left leadership to continue a “campaign” against the Government could backfire at attempts to keep the union afloat. Only last week a circular sent out by the South East PCS indicated a search for other unions to “ally” with over potential strike action on areas of “mutual concern. Strangely these “areas were not specified, but the long lost Pensions issue is believed to be one of them. They also seek action in Departments that can “sustain” strikes, though are not specific about these either.
The circular also makes reference to the unions intervention in elections and calls on branches to set up “town and city committees” for campaigns. A rather odd demand since most of these locations will already have Trades Councils which theoretically fulfil that function. One can only surmise that Serwotka and the Socialist Party are setting up “soviets” under their control to build for this mythical 24 hour General Strike that they have been blathering about for far too long now.
The Socialist Party leaders of PCS are also planning on intervening in the local and European elections this year under the tired and irrelevant banner of the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition and No2EU along with Bob Crow. Given the current attacks on our jobs, our rights and our futures I would have thought their priority would be to err.. help remove the Coalition at the General Election in 2015.
But no. That would mean a little compromise to a thing called reality like voting Labour. That’s not on their agenda. They just want a bloody revolution and nothing else will do.
Perhaps the members of PCS would welcome an opportunity to walk away from this and find a real trade union rather than a group of political charlatans whose only interest are their own barmy ideologies.
There may be better prospects elsewhere. Time will tell.
Watch this space.