From the TUC

#TUBill will limit the amount of paid time off for public sector reps

22 Feb 2016, by in Public services

A new report from the TUC on the benefits of paid time off for union reps provides evidence that the Government’s attack on facility time in the public sector is wrong-headed.

The proposals in the trade union bill are the culmination of a campaign waged by the political right against workplace representation for public sector workers.  The measures will allow ministers to arbitrarily reduce the proportion of the pay bill spent on facility time in government departments and any other parts of the public sector they decide, regardless of the views of those services’ management.

The justification for these reforms stems firstly from the view that facility time represents a ‘cost’ and that the funding could be better used elsewhere. The second justification is a mistaken belief that facility time is used not to represent workers individually or collectively but to engage in political campaigning.

Unlike the government and lobby groups on the political right, the TUC has looked at the costs and benefits of allowing paid time off for union reps. Our report updates previous findings on the benefits that result from giving workplace union reps paid time off.  These benefits – reducing dismissal and voluntary exit rates, reducing work related injuries and illness amongst others – produce savings that taken together are more than twice the cost of the time off.

Basically, for every £1 spent on facility time, the benefits to the taxpayer are between £2 and £5.

And the report also looks at how well union reps with paid time off are regarded by employers. After all, if it were true that facility time is used for political campaigning rather than to represent workers, one might imagine there would be a number of employers ready to back this up.

Instead the opposite is the case.  Public sector employers are vocal in praising the contribution of workplace reps to stable and effective industrial relations. Significant numbers of employer bodies – including the Welsh and Scottish local government bodies – testified to the value of facility time during the committee stages of the trade union bill.

And the report notes that 84% of employer respondents in public sector workplaces which have full-time union reps either agreed or strongly agreed that full-time union reps can be trusted to act with ‘honesty and integrity’.

This report presents the latest evidence to show that the misconceptions about the cost, role and activities of workplace reps fly in the face of the available facts. It is clear that reducing the role for union reps in the public sector will make industrial relations trickier and impact on morale amongst workers. And that will have consequences for the public sector at a time of huge cuts.

These reforms are more to do with restricting the ability of unions to represent their members than with saving money.

2 Responses to #TUBill will limit the amount of paid time off for public sector reps

  1. Kenneth Toulson
    Feb 22nd 2016, 6:28 pm

    The negative title confirms the passivity of the TUC and trade union leaders.

    Frances O’Grady said recently, ‘The campaign against the trade union bill is at a critical stage. The parliamentary process has moved into the House of Lords, where we have “our best chances of defeating it” or “getting changes pushed through”.’

    Then, Lord Monks, a former General Secretary of the TUC, says about the bill, ‘…Labour Peers will do all what they can to “counter the worst of it…” …”We can only but hope”.’

    Then I read in Update section of PCS People that, ‘PCS is working with its all-party parliamentary group to “persuade” members of the House of Lords to “support amendments to the bill”.’

    It seems they have already given up just when we should be fighting tooth and nail to kill the Bill altogether not cravenly plead for meaningless concessions. The only thing that is going to stop this vicious government in its tracks, is an all-out general strike, but there’s not even a whiff of this coming from the TUC or our trade union leaders. I despair.

    I have no faith whatsoever in the TUC or the trade unions leadership’s appetite for a meaningful fightback. Frances O’Grady said recently, ‘The campaign against the trade union bill is at a critical stage. The parliamentary process has moved into the House of Lords, where we have “our best chances of defeating it” or “getting changes pushed through”.’

    Then, Lord Monks, a former General Secretary of the TUC, says about the bill, ‘…Labour Peers will do all what they can to “counter the worst of it…” …”We can only but hope”.’

    Then I read in Update section of PCS People that, ‘PCS is working with its all-party parliamentary group to “persuade” members of the House of Lords to “support amendments to the bill”.’

    It seems they have already given up just when we should be fighting tooth and nail to kill the Bill altogether not cravenly plead for worthless concessions. The only thing that is going to stop this vicious government in its tracks, is an all-out general strike, but I’m not holding my breath that anything is likely to come out of this latest attempt coordinate anything meaningful.

    Never has the phrase, a “workers’ representative on a worker’s wage” been more relevant for today’s trade union movement leaders.

  2. Silent Hunter
    Feb 28th 2016, 11:40 am

    Why would a general strike work? The one in 1926 didn’t.