The farce of union pilgrims
The Government’s own estimates indicate that if the amount of public sector facility time was reduced to levels in line with the private sector, 2,172 staff could return to work and actually do the jobs taxpayers are paying them to do. This is hardly an unreasonable request
The Taxpayers’ Alliance has today exposed the scandalous extent to which the public are still subsidising trade unions. Taxpayers are shelling out at least £113m a year in paid staff time (£92m) and direct payments to unions (£21m).
Whilst the full-time equivalent number of staff provided for unions has fallen slightly in absolute terms from 3,084 to 3,041, the faster fall in public sector employment means that the proportion of public sector staff who really work for unions has increased.
To put it in perspective, the number of full-time equivalent staff provided to trade unions is more than two and a half times bigger than the entire workforce of HM Treasury. The greatest bastion of subsidised union activity is the Department for Work and Pensions which provided 272 staff whilst Birmingham took the dubious crown among local authorities with more than 70 staff.
These shocking figures do not however paint the full picture. The true numbers will be far higher because, astonishingly, 461 public sector organisations do not keep a record of how much time staff time is spent on union duties. Furthermore, nineteen of them failed to respond to our request after 85 working days – well beyond the 20 day legal limit.
Some responses which failed to provide figures unearthed a litany of worrying and bizarre practices by some public sector employers. For instance, Walsall Healthcare stated that facility time is “divvied up by the unions, not management” whilst Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust provides a full-time “personal assistant” to unions.
Other organisations allocate generous allowances but then let union reps exceed them and spend more time on union activity: Greater Manchester Fire Service designated 235 shifts for trade union facility time – 348 were taken. A legal briefing published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance highlighted this failure of some public sector bodies to properly control taxpayer-funded union activities.
This farce has to end. It is wrong that taxpayers’ money is paying for thousands of union activists to plan strikes which disrupt the very services that they are paid to provide.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude’s plans limit the amount of facility time taken in the civil service are much welcomed, but far more work is needed to rein in this unjustifiable subsidy elsewhere in the public sector and at the very least, bring it down to levels seen in the private sector.
The Government’s own estimates indicate that if the amount of public sector facility time was reduced to levels in line with the private sector, 2,172 staff could return to work and actually do the jobs taxpayers are paying them to do. This is hardly an unreasonable request.
Read more on: jane pilgrim, trade union reform campaign, trades union congress, unions and the left, union paymasters, trade unions, TaxPayers Alliance, UK taxpayers, pilgrims, nurse pilgrim, and union pilgrims
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