Independent research shows facility time saves the taxpayer money

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Cuts to civil service facility time make no sense for the taxpayer, say UNISON.

As George Osborne yesterday made another attack on working people, the union warned the assault on public service workers by the government makes the need for fair and well-trained union representation for workers more vital than ever.

Independent research in 2012 revealed that facility time saves the taxpayer money by providing a ready-made structure for meaningful consultation and negotiation. It also improves workplace relations and helps organisations to cope with change, such as the huge cuts, job losses and reorganisations that are currently hitting the public sector.

Research commissioned by the Department for Business in 2007 suggested that effective and engaged union representation saves the public purse between £170m and £400m a year by improving retention, training take-up, health and safety, and dispute resolution; and as much as £3.6bn a year through general productivity gains.

UNISON assistant general secretary Karen Jennings said: “The government needs to look at the evidence instead of indulging in ideological attacks on unions. Cutting facility time does not make any sense for the public sector or for the taxpayer. Take this away and the government would have to pay for expensive consultants, and mediators – costing a fortune.

“It is staggering, that at a time when austerity has plunged the economy into double dip recession, Ministers are distracted by yet another attack on workplace representation”.

*A report by NatCen Social Research revealed that:

Facility time provides a ready-made structure for meaningful consultation and negotiation saving organisations money and providing reassurance to employees that their views are valued in decision-making.

It allows partnership working with trade unions that improves workplace relations and the reputation of an employer as ‘a good place to work’.

It allows earlier intervention into complaints, grievances and disciplinaries, preventing escalation into more serious problems. This saves organisations and taxpayers’ money by reducing the impact on staff time and possible legal costs.

It brings about better communication, helping to manage change during restructuring and redundancy processes; thereby improving understanding of decisions, minimising negative impacts and reducing the number of working days lost through industrial action.

The report concludes that “Where reps were released or seconded from their substantive posts the quality of representation and availability of reps was further improved because reps were able to focus further on their duties, prepare better for discussions with managers and build up relationships of respect trust with managers over time.”


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