Wednesday, May 27, 2015
A lesson from the past about the future of DOCAS
The link above is to a twenty two year old story about how (then) public sector employers, British Coal and British Rail, used the withdrawal of what was then called "check-off" as a weapon in industrial relations disputes.
It's not accidental that this happened last time a majority Conservative Government was elected. The only difference, in 2015, is that we call "check-off" DOCAS (deduction of contributions at source) (at least, we do in UNISON).
We know that, under the previous Government, Tory ministers initiated the withdrawal of DOCAS in the civil service. We know that their manifesto more than hints that they will continue. We know that they don't need to legislate to pursue this policy directly in the English health service, nor to encourage this approach to local authorities under their control.
Continuing to rely upon employers to collect 70% of our subscription income in current circumstances would be wildly irresponsible - and would leave the health unions with no where to go when the Government ask us to choose between DOCAS and the defence of unsocial hours payments.
The unforeseen attack upon our political funds deserves the condemnation which will be heaped upon it (no one asks us to opt-in to paying the extra cost of our groceries accounted for by donations from retailers to the Tory Party!) However, we mustn't lose sight of the urgent need, in this hostile environment, to wean our trade union off its dependence upon our employers to collect our subscription income.
The campaign for workers to opt-in to our political fund must also be a campaign to shift payment of union subscriptions to direct debit.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.