PUBLIC-SECTOR union PCS won its legal challenge yesterday against a government department which had banned it from collecting members’ dues through the check-off system.
Judge Elisabeth Laing ruled that it was unlawful for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to stop the PCS using the system.
The judgement opens the way for the union, which has been forced to spend considerable time and resources re-recruiting tens of thousands of members to pay by direct debit, to claim damages for loss of income.
And PCS said it is now considering further legal challenges against other government departments that have blocked check-off.
The case was sparked after former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude called on Civil Service employers to end the check-off system in what unions said was a deliberate attempt to undermine their finances and organisation.
DWP, the largest Civil Service department, unilaterally ended the arrangement one year ago alongside other departments, including HM Revenue and Customs, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It has always been clear that the political decision to remove check-off was unnecessary and vindictive, and we have comprehensively been proved right.
“This is not just a defeat for the DWP, it is a victory for all unions over a major injustice. And it is scandalous that taxpayers again face huge legal bills because Tory ministers have an obsession with trying to undermine trade unions in the workplace.”
It comes after the government dropped plans to include a ban on check-off in the rest of the public sector in the Trade Union Act.