Union calls on Tory MP to withdraw comments suggesting it supports regional pay


UNISON has called on Tory MP Aidan Burley to retract comments which wholly misrepresented the union’s position on government plans to introduce regional pay into the public sector.

Questioning Labour MP Rachel Reeves, Burley – who last year was sacked as a Parliamentary aide for his role in organising a Nazi-themed stag party in France – used a sentence from a UNISON report to suggest that the union is in favour of introducing regionalised pay.

Quoting the report, he said: “Location-based pay systems offer increased flexibility and a systematic approach to addressing recruitment and retention issues at a local level.”

He then followed that up by saying: “Government members agree with UNISON in that analysis, and I shall be interested to hear whether any Labour members, many of whom will doubtless be taking donations from UNISON to their constituency Labour parties, also do.”

But he failed to mention the crucial sentences which follow, which qualify the statement. His cynical, selective editing presented UNISON as being in favour of government plans to introduce regional pay, when the opposite is true – as is fully explained in the report.

Ravi Subramanian, UNISON head of the West Midlands, said: “Parliamentary privilege is not an excuse to peddle half-truths and lies, and Aidan Burley MP’s disingenuous comments in the House of Commons must be retracted.

“UNISON is firmly against plans to introduce regional pay in the public sector. The entire thrust of the report he quotes sets out why the government’s policy is flawed and does not reflect practice in the private sector. The sentence he lifted is taken totally out of context and is very misleading.

“Public sector workers – including those in Aidan Burley’s constituency – know that the plans for regional pay are not about increasing fairness, but about cutting pay plain and simple. The plans would not only lead to staff shortages, but would spark an upsurge in expensive bureaucracy, and take money out of hard-pressed local economies, just when they need it most. They must be dropped.”

Aidan Burley is the chairman of the Trade Union Reform Campaign, which wants to see an end to facility time for trade unionists.

* You can read UnionNews’s report of the Parliamentary debate here, you can read about Burley’s stag party activities here and you can read a special UnionNews investigation into TURC here.

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