Facility Time – Here we go again
The Taxpayers Alliance -the group that is NOT an alliance of ordinary tax payers is once again speaking up for..well themselves really.
Taking up the invitation recently extended by the government for suggestions from the public for laws they would like to see repealed, the Taxpayers Alliance has shown that it has its finger on the pulse of the nation and the real concerns of employers (no, not really) by suggesting that one of the laws that it would like to see repealed is the one that provides for paid facility time for union reps.
This is the latest development in what appears to be a concerted attack by sections of the press and groups such as the Tax Payers Alliance on paid time off and other employer provided facilities for union representatives. The main tactics are requests under the Freedom of Information Act to find out the cost to public sector employers of such facilities, Parliamentary questions and negative press stories.
The narrative is that facility time is a costly burden to employers that brings no business benefits. The reality is quite different with government research showing not only that the activities of union representatives do benefit employers but that many union representatives use significant amounts of their own time to carry out their duties.
A report published by the then BERR (now BIS) in 2007 found that union reps in the public sector contribute up to 100,000 hours of their OWN TIME each week to carry out union duties; time that directly benefits public services and those who work in them. TUC research has estimated that almost one quarter of union reps have to use their own time to carry out their union duties and almost 10 per cent of reps get no paid time of at all.
Even though its clear that employers don’t pay for all of the time that union reps put into supporting their member they certainly benefit significantly. Once again Government research in 2007 found that union reps in the public sector SAVE the taxpayer between £167m and £397m every year by helping to resolve disputes, increasing the take up of training and reducing staff turnover
Taking in to account reps in both the public and private sector, workplace union reps reduce dismissals creating a benefit to employers’ worth between £107m and £213m and reduce voluntary exits that benefit employers to the tune of between £72m and £143m. Union Learning Reps are worth between £94m and £156m to employers in enhanced productivity.
Carl Roper is the TUC National Organiser