Public price of unions – £100k

Hundreds of public sector workers gathered in Blackpool town centre for a rally and march as part of the day of action on proposed pension changes

Hundreds of public sector workers gathered in Blackpool town centre for a rally and march as part of the day of action on proposed pension changes

0
Have your say

MORE than £100,000 of public cash is spent on funding union activity at Blackpool Council each year, according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The sum of £112,769 is equivalent to four full-time employees working all year on union activity and relates to the amount of time union reps take from their employment to carry out union activity.

In contrast, the bill at Fylde Council is £839 a year while Wyre pays nothing.

However, at Lancashire County Council (LCC), the alliance says union activity costs taxpayers a whopping £688,457 per year – equivalent to more than 24 full-time posts.

Union bosses say the money is outweighed by the amount representatives help save the British taxpayer every year.

A spokesman for the alliance said: “It is unfair for taxpayers to be shouldering this burden.

“Unions should pay for representation within public sector organisations themselves, using their subscription income.

“Union members pay their dues through their own volition and unions can use those funds.”

Click here to register with The Gazette website to enable you to comment on stories.

Union reps are entitled to take paid time off to carry out union duties, by the Employment Protection Act of 1975.

Duties can include negotiating terms and conditions of employment, helping with disciplinary or grievance procedures.

Blackpool Council assistant chief executive Carmel Mckeogh said: “We don’t pay trade unions but do allow members of staff time to spend on union duties.

“We have a facility arrangement in place with the trades unions which gives staff reasonable time off to deal with issues. This is common practice.”

And LCC chief executive Phil Halsall said: “The 17 union posts help the county council maintain a good working relationship with the unions and it’s in the interests of a large organisation to maintain a robust negotiating framework.

“In difficult issues they can have a more dispassionate view than a work based steward who could be caught up in the issue.”

The country’s biggest union today hit back.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “If this organisation were indeed acting on behalf of taxpayers, they would be acknowledging the huge role unions play in creating an efficient, more motivated workplace. By doing this, trade unions save the public purse a fortune.”

Last week, public sector strikes brought widespread disruption as unions negotiate with the Government over changes to members’ pensions.