Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A complacency we’ve seen before?


At the first meeting of the Development and Organisation (D&O) Committee of the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) after the General Election the Committee considered a report on what the Tories were likely to do, based upon what was in their election manifesto.

Foreseeing that the new Government would move against the rational, economical and efficient method whereby members pay their union subscriptions from their wages or salaries (Deduction of Contributions at Source - DOCAS) the Committee unanimously agreed a plan to start moving members to paying by Direct Debit.

This was never a decision to give up on fighting against such an attack (a question which - on the UNISON NEC - is the province of a separate Policy Committee). It was about preparing prudently to protect our organisation from a well advertised attack.

That decision has not been revoked - and indeed the National Delegate Conference agreed an Emergency Composite Motion dealing with both our policy of opposition to such a change and with the need to prepare for the eventuality we hope to avoid.

However, there have been those who have done their best to spread complacency about the likelihood of this attack and the severity of its consequences. The link above shows that, even now we know that the Government aim to legislate away our freedom to agree with our employers how we collect our subscription income within a matter of weeks, the voice of complacency is not silent yet.

It's not true that we have "seen off" attacks on DOCAS in the past. They have cost us members in the 80s and the 90s - and our "success" in persuading Danny Alexander ‎not to go along with this attack under the last Government hasn't prevented our members in what's left of the Probation Service having the deduction of their union subscriptions stopped at the end of this month.

If that is how we "see off" attacks I would hate to see what it looks like when we succumb to them.

Branch activists need to crack on with identifying those members paying by DOCAS and making plans to switch them to Direct Debit. Let us try to stop this attack, including by gathering in our thousands in Manchester on 4 October - but don't let's risk our Union by listening to the voice of complacency.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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