Millions of taxpayers’ cash goes on union work
SCOTLAND’S councils have spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on paying staff to carry out trade union work, new figures have revealed.
Almost £14 million was spent on paying council wages to staff who were given time off to do trade union work during the past five years, according to the figures released under freedom of information laws.
They showed council employees working part-time on union business, with others having full-time roles earning up to £27,000 a year paid for by the taxpayer.
Fife Council was the largest spender, paying more than £2.5m since 2007, supporting the equivalent of 18 full-time workers in that period.
Glasgow City Council employed the equivalent of more than 17 full-time union representatives, at a cost of £2.2m, according to the figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell called on councils to review the “time facility arrangements”, for funding the wages of staff doing trade union work.
She said: “In tough economic times many hard-working Scottish taxpayers will be wondering why their councils have spent so much money giving employees time off to work on trade union business, while still paying them a full salary.
“Paying someone for the work they do is one thing, but paying them for work they don’t do is not something our public sector can afford to sustain.”
However, union leaders insisted that allowing council staff to carry out trade union work led to benefits for employees and management.
Stephen Boyd, assistant secretary of the STUC, said: “Trade union workplace representatives help to establish better workplace relations, prevent problems escalating through early intervention and improve employer and worker communication.
“The financial savings to the employer through, for instance, dismissal and recruitment costs, are significant and hugely outweigh the cost facility time.”
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