Pickles ‘out to smash union’

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PCS members say they are on the front line in fight against ‘union bashing’
PCS members say they are on the front line in fight against ‘union bashing’

A LIVELY PCS lobby yesterday of the Royal Courts of Justice took place as the union took the Department for Communications and Local Government (DCLG) to court for ‘breaching workers’ contracts’, after department head Eric Pickles ended the ‘check off’ system by which union subs are paid directly from wages.

The lobbyists chanted: ‘Keep a lid on Pickles, keep him in the jar. Keep a lid on Pickles he’s made a cut too far.’

Nick McCarthy, PCS director of Campaigns, spoke to News Line and described the legal action as a ‘test case’ for both the government and the PCS.

He continued: ‘Pickles has unilaterally stopped the collecting of union subs from salary, ending a decades-old agreement by which our union is able to function.

‘This is intended to undermine our finances and we consider this a breach of contract, and that is what we are going to prove in court today.

‘This has wider ramifications than just for the DCLG workers. Undermining union financing is what the government wants to do to the whole trade union movement.

‘The DCLG has been put on the front line of this political battle.’

A DCLG worker, who did not wish to be named for fear of victimisation, told News Line: ‘Eric Pickles is out to smash the union, he is going further than any other government department has dared.

‘It’s union bashing pure and simple, the way sports organisations and charities finance is not being targeted, the unions are being singled out.’

Paul Nowak, assistant general secretary of the TUC, addressed the lobby saying: ‘This case is important for the DCLG and the whole union movement.

‘This union bashing is part of a whole Tory policy against education, the NHS and public services.’

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘We are standing up for the union and all unions.

‘Whatever happens today this kind of union bashing must be fought all the way in every union.

‘We made the offer to the DCLG that the union itself will pay the costs of collecting subs.

‘The cost of this was worked out to be £350, a reasonable amount.

‘The fact that the DCLG refused our offer shows that this is not about “saving taxpayers’ money” as the minister (Pickles) has said, it’s about bashing the unions.

‘In this time of austerity and increased Tory cuts and hostility we need a healthy well-funded union to do our important work.

‘Whether or not we win in court, we are determined to carry on the fight.

‘We want to send Pickles a message – you may continue to hinder and block us but we will continue to build our union.’