UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Political Fund Opt Outs – Separating fact from fiction

The complexities of union political funds have come under the microscope over the past week. Both Union News and Socialist Unity websites make a ludicrous claim (based on an erroneous Government Certification Officer report) that 35.2% or 35.3% of UNISON members have opted out of paying the political fund. This is utter nonsense. Far from UNISON having the largest opt out of affiliated unions, the reverse is the case. The opt out figures for (or exemption to be legally precise) as declared by each of the ‘Big 4’ Unions are as follows:

Union Full Members      Opt Outs (Exemptions)
CWU 198,642 23,125
GMB 613,384 24,724
UNISON 1,286,000 9,593
Unite 1,101,255  53,796

These figures indicate those members who have opted out of paying the political fund by using an approved exemption form. The law requires that portion of the subscription to be reimbursed to the member. The actual figures as required by law are available in union annual returns published on the CO website.

Two groups of members do not make political contributions – full members who have claimed exemption (see above) - and those who belong to a category of membership which does not contribute to the political fund EG retired members and unemployed members.

Bizarrely the Certification Officer’s annual report at appendix 9 contains ridiculous errors and inconsistencies with the actual returns submitted by individual unions.

Who regulates the trade union regulator?