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Eric Pickles cost taxpayers £90,000 over ‘reckless’ case

4:24 pm - September 3rd 2013

by Newswire    

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British taxpayers face a £90,000 legal bill after communities secretary Eric Pickles’ “reckless and political” attack on the Public and Commercial Services union was ruled unlawful today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government had tried to unilaterally end a decades-old system for collecting union subscriptions through salaries – an arrangement that costs the department just £300 a year to administer.

But a High Court judge ruled today that Pickles’s move was a breach of contract and must be reversed, and that DCLG will have to pay the union’s legal costs as well as its own.

The judge agreed with the union that having union subscriptions deducted through salaries – known as ‘check off’ – forms part of DCLG staff members’ contracts and therefore could not be withdrawn without consent.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

It is staggering that Eric Pickles pressed ahead with this reckless and political attempt to undermine our union in his department.

Pickles has very serious questions to answer about why he decided to spend tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money fighting to scrap something that costs less than £30 a month.

Pickles has previously advised local authorities to end check off but was the first cabinet minister to attempt to apply it in the civil service.

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Reader comments

1. Man on Clapham Omnibus

No pies for him – well not today at any rate!

He also had an annual 10k biscuit bill…

Is the issue (a) the £90K expenditure or (b) ‘check-off’?

If (a), are the current arrangements never to challenged legally? And if they are, is £90K so unreasonable?

If (b), are current ‘check-off’ arrangements beyond legal challenge? Ever?


The issue – which is clear enough from the article, I would have thought – is that this bumptious, indolent dolt tried unilaterally to change the terms & conditions of employment in his Department without even the semblance of negotiation.

What is undemocratic about wanting to either a) charge a commercial rate for a commercial activity or b) withdraw a free service. Just charge the union’s for company/ civil service time

6. Man on Clapham Omnibus

5. dennis

nothing to do with democracy Dennis its to do with contract law.

There is nothing wrong in wanting something. However, doing what Pickles did clearly breached the contract of employment according to the High Court judge.
It is a pity that the Court is not able to sentence Pickles to do several months of dog dirt collecting.

8. Psychological Mind Games

The fat controller has to much power !

9. Paul peter Smith

Is Eric Pickles any relation to former judge Pickles of ‘she was asking for it’ fame?

“an arrangement that costs the department just £300 a year to administer.”

I understand that the newspapers are reporting that this system costs over 250,000 to administer, and that the PCS only won on a technicality.

9. Paul peter Smith

I doubt it. the Sontaran warrior is the only working class Tory in the government.

10. Tyler
The ‘technicality’ is the Contract of Employment. Newspapers eh. You couldn’t make it up.

@12 Ceiliog

Coincidentally Tyler is echoing the verdict of the Guido Fawkes blog. Now we know where he gets his “facts”.

14. The Thin Man


Of course the newspapers have a record for accurate reporting. How can making 1 adjustment to a persons computer record which will then atomatically account and pay the recipient(PCS) the monthly subs by BACS cost £250,000? If that was the case we’d all be paying a charge for every direct debit we had.
This is pure spite based a pathelogical hatred of Trades Unions.
The DCLG also has the lowest staff morale in the whole of the Civil Service.


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