29/10/2010

Cuts galore, but we are still paying for council union reps

I am all for the right of free association and for people to set up whatever organisations they want to represent them in the work place, including trade unions. I'll go further and say that I think that by and large trade unions are good thing. However, we should never forget that no matter what they say it is their one and only duty to represent their members interests, everything else is a minor consideration.

With that in mind I decided to find out if my councils, Dorset County Council and North Dorset District Council, were supporting trade unions in any way and issued a FoI request seeking various pieces of information, most notably about staff paid purely to work as union reps. The district council responded immediately that they weren't. The County Council took the full 28 days and I can see why. The gist of the answer is:
The County Council’s Facilities Agreements with the recognised Trades Unions for respective staff groups include provision for payment of salaries to a number of lay officials of recognised Trades Unions seconded to work on Trades Unions’ duties.  The facilities agreement specifies the terms of these arrangements which in summary provide for paid release to support collective bargaining between the recognised TUs and the County Council, plus member representation. 
So we are paying people to represent the staff to negotiate with us. And how many people?
The following posts are funded for secondments to work on trade union duties for Unison, GMB and Unite.  There are 4.61 FTE posts included in this arrangement ...
Nearly 5 full time employees just to carry out union duties. And how much?
.... at a total annual cost of some £151,922 per annum.
I'll bet that doesn't cover employers NI and other costs. 

We have just been told that the County Council has to find savings of £22m over 3 years, no small amount. If we assume that the £150k doesn't include employer NI and other employment costs we can estimate that in 3 years these union Council employees will have cost us around £500k or around 2% of the savings needed. Every little helps.

But there's more. They also give:
A sum of £80,600 per annum is paid to the Dorset Teachers Council representing the six teaching trade unions to cover the expenses of lay officials and also the release replacement costs of representatives within individual schools who deal from time to time with individual problems/issues on behalf of trade union members
But that doesn't count apparently, because it's a direct grant from the Government money tree.

Let's see what our local MP and County Councillor have to say about it, not much I suspect but I've written to get their opinions.

So, next time you see a union rep banging on about how their members are going to suffer, just remember that you may be directly paying their salaries, not the subscriptions of their members.
And let's not forget that Labour gave unions £11m for "modernisation", who just happen to fund the Labour Party:
Unite has given Labour £10.78m in cash donations and a further £287,023 in benefits such as the use of premises and printing since it was formed in 2007, through a merger of the Transport & General Workers Union and Amicus.
They can do that because we are paying for what should be the role of the trade unions.



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