24 June 2022

PCS wins check-off case against Defra

PCS has won a fourth case against a government department over the withdrawal of check-off facilities.

Until 30 January 2015, PCS members in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, were able to pay their union subscriptions by means of 'check-off' arrangements where deductions were made directly from their salaries through the payroll system by the department and paid to PCS. The department then removed members’ ability to pay their subs through their wage slips and were forced to move to paying through direct debit.

PCS made it clear to Defra when they threatened to remove check-off that we believed it was unlawful and we would take them to court. Despite these warnings, senior managers went ahead and removed this facility from members, threatening the very existence of PCS.

There was no rational reason to remove the facility. We believe that it was a politically-motivated attack designed to bankrupt the union by cutting off its subscription income. This was because of the leading role that our union played in the fightback against the coalition government’s austerity regime.

In a judgment handed down by Mr Justice Choudhury at the High Court today, he declared that our members had a contractual right to check-off and that in removing it, the department had breached our members’ contracts and that PCS was entitled to redress.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is another victory for PCS, another defeat for the government. 

“The withdrawal of the check-off facility was an attempt to destroy our union. We will continue to fight and campaign on behalf of our members undeterred by government threats and intimidation.”

The case against Defra will now proceed to a remedy hearing to determine the amount of damages that the department must pay to PCS.

This verdict follows similar victories against the Department for Work and Pensions, which was forced to pay PCS £3 million in damages, the Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Home Office.

We have a series of further claims against other government departments due to be heard by the High Court later in the year.

Want to join the fight for better pay and against the cuts? Join PCS online now.