A recent inquiry into trade unions found that millions of pounds are paid each year from taxpayers to trade union officials. Local authorities are paying taxpayer funds to a council member’s salary as they perform duties for trade unions. A recent survey conducted by the Sunday Telegraph of 77 English councils found 11 million pounds were paid for such positions.
Some of the council members performing duties for trade unions received salaries in excess of 50,000 pounds per year. The duties performed for these unions were found to be part time as well as full time. The inquiry into this issue comes at a time when many public unions are preparing fights and walkouts in protest against government’s proposed spending cuts and job cuts.
The arrangement that allows paid council members to perform part time and full time work as trade union representatives is through agreements between the local governments and unions that are represented in their workforces. One example of the findings disclosed in the survey was in Manchester where there are 14 full time people employed to fulfill trade union duties at a cost of 356,554 pounds per year from the taxpayers. The unions insist it is a good arrangement as the representative keeps peace within the major industry that is present in the town. They represent member’s interests for disputes, claims and consultations.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, the UK’s largest public sector union, said: “There are more than six million public sector workers and all these staff have the right to be represented. If trade union stewards are going to represent staff properly, they need time away from their usual jobs to do it. Public services are facing savage cutbacks and workers have a right to have their voices heard and rightly expect their union reps to be there to help them when they need them most. Far from causing industrial strife, paid facility time has contributed to the lowest levels of strikes on record. In short – trade union facility time makes good business sense.”
However, Andrew Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton and Uttoxeter, said: “Councils across the country are taking difficult decisions about staffing and funding in order to protect front line services, so it is outrageous that council taxpayers are being forced to fund the activities of the union barons.
“The trade unions are sucking money away from vital services while at the same time planning to spend millions on politically-motivated campaigns against the spending cuts.”
In addition, Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Trade unions are lining up to fight vital cuts in public spending and threatening strikes that could cause massive disruption for ordinary families.
“If big, rich, public sector unions are going to take an active political role, there is no way they should be getting taxpayers’ money.”