Tories hit out at '£200m taxpayer bill' for trade union officials
Ministers have lashed out after it was revealed that trade union activists have cost public bodies nearly £200m in the past year.
Figures showing the amount of ‘facility time’ – where trade union staff take agreed time off to act on behalf of their members – revealed that union officials had cost Birmingham City Council £1.1m last year – the same cost as 35 full-time members of staff.
Meanwhile, HM Revenue and Customs were hit with a £2.2m bill for union activity while Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust paid out £465,000.
Transport for London shelled out £5m in the year from April 2017, with 692 individual staff taking paid time off to carry out union activities.
According to the Sun on Sunday the total bill for facility time is believed to be around £200m a year, with 16,664 full-time equivalent trade unions in post across 1,200 public bodies.
Cabinet Officer Minister Oliver Dowden slammed the figures, saying: “Proper controls will save taxpayers’ money and allow more resources to be spent on frontline services across the police, hospitals and councils. We have already delivered these reforms in the Civil Service, whilst ensuring fair pay in the workplace.
“By opening up the books, we are now demonstrating the scope for the wider public sector to follow this example.
He added: “It’s no surprise that Labour councils are throwing taxpayers’ money at the trade unions, in return for the donations the Labour Party gets from the unions. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party would abolish this transparency, rip up trade union laws and hand union barons more taxpayer cash.
“Labour would give the green light to trade union militancy which would disrupt working people’s lives and damage our economy.”