This is a link to the organising response of our sister union, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) to the proposals in the Trade Union Bill to prevent public sector employers from operating deduction of union contributions at source (directly from our pay) - a long standing arrangement known as "DOCAS" or "Check-off."
The FBU are preparing to switch members to pay their subscriptions by direct debit in anticipation that the Trade Union Bill will make it through the Lords with the relevant clauses still intact.
UNISON is playing a leading role in lobbying the Lords to try to limit the damage to our movement by this pernicious Bill - and has not given up hoping that we may be able to defeat the attack on DOCAS, for which no one has been calling (and which was only added to the Bill in late amendments).
However, we need to be ready for the eventuality that the prohibition on public sector "check off" reaches the statute book - and for a campaign such as that being waged by the FBU. UNISON, with 800,000 plus members paying their subscriptions via DOCAS is at the sharp end of this particular attack.
Direct Debit is a far less satisfactory way to pay union subscriptions (particularly for low paid workers whose pay goes out of the bank account as fast as it comes in). However, we already have well over a third of a million members paying UNISON subscriptions from their bank accounts rather than their wages (a number which would be set to increase regardless of the Trade Union Bill owing to the increasing fragmentation of the public service workforce).
UNISON activists have no choice but to prepare for an increasing number of members paying by direct debit - and a campaign along the lines of that being organised by the FBU seems unavoidable.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.