UNISON fights back over TPA report on facility time


The Tax Payers Alliance is pumping out the same, tired old predictable right wing rubbish on trade union facility time, says UNISON.

Dismissing the TPA’s report that taxpayers fund trade unions to the tune of £113 million a year, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “If this organisation were indeed acting on behalf of taxpayers, rather than promoting their own right wing political agenda, they would be acknowledging the huge role trade unions play in creating an efficient, more motivated workplace. By doing this, trade unions save the public purse a fortune.”

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 £3.6 billion a year through general productivity gains.

Dave Prentis said: “If trade union stewards are going to represent staff properly, they need time away from their usual jobs to do it. Public sector union representatives already contribute up to 100,000 unpaid hours every week. If councils or the NHS had to negotiate individually with all their staff, they would be forced to spend a fortune on consultants or mediators.

“Public services are facing savage cut backs 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, and any attempts to cut it will end up costing the taxpayer money.”

A report for the Department of Trade and Industry in 2007, said that the UK’s 350,000 workplace reps brought in benefits worth £476 million to £1,133 million annually.

A TUC report in December 2009 said that trade union involvement boosted productivity by making people feel listened to, and more in control of their working lives.

Union reps in the public sector contribute up to 100,000 unpaid hours of their own time each week to carry out their union duties, the research showed. This is time that directly benefits public services and the people who work in them. – The DTI estimates this productivity boost is worth between £3.4 billion, and £10.2 billion to the economy.

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