Report from NatCen Social Research finds trade unions create a structure for consultation and negotiation


Facility time for trade union reps in the public sector saves the taxpayer money, cuts the number of strikes and disputes and improves workplace relations, according to a new report.

Commissioned by UNISON, the report by NatCen Social Research found that facility time creates a structure for consultation and negotiation helping workers to feel that their voices will be heard when decisions are made. Trade union reps are instrumental to managing change – especially important given the upheaval currently hitting the public sector.

The report, based on evidence gathered from both employers and trade union reps through focus group sessions and 129 written submissions, also contains real-life examples of how trade unions have worked with employers to help public sector bodies through organisational change.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Trade union reps are a huge boost to our workplaces. They help to create more efficient workplaces, they cut the number of disputes, and by making people feel like their voices are being heard, they can help manage change. This adds up to saving the taxpayer a fortune.

“Given the huge scale of the cuts hitting the public sector, the role of workplace reps in our public services is more important than ever before. Attacking reps – who already give 100,000 hours of extra work outside of their facility time – doesn’t make sense and will only cost the taxpayer money in the long run.”

The key benefits that facility time bring to public sector workplaces include:

– Creating a ready-made structure for consultation and negotiation, saving organisations money and giving workers reassurance that their views will be heard when decisions are made.

– Allowing partnership working with trade unions to improve workplace relations, helping to create the reputation of an employer as ‘a good place to work’.

– Earlier intervention in relation to complaints, grievances and disciplinaries, helping to stop issues escalating, which saves organisations and ultimately taxpayers’ money.

– Better communication 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 Trade Union Reform Campaign, whose chairman is Tory MP Aidan Burley, is currently campaigning to end facility time for TU reps, despite research showing reps save the UK economy £2m a day.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.  


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
Author avatar