What are the big financial pressures and issues facing the public sector today? Is it the unprecedented programme of public sector cuts being driven through by the coalition government? Is it the hundreds of millions of pounds fuelling shareholder dividends rather than delivering quality public services? Is it perhaps the PFI chickens coming home to roost – with the tax-payer having to foot the bill for facilities they have already paid for many times over? Or maybe its the brewing storm that is likely break as Michael Gove’s charge to Academise and ‘free’ our schools results in more and more cases of corruption and financial abuse?
If you are the ‘Tax-Payer’s Alliance’ (sic) the answer is ‘none of the above’.
Instead the biggest problem facing Britain’s public services are in fact – you’ve guessed it – trade unions, and more particularly those pesky union reps who do all those tiresome and unimportant things like ensuring people get fair representation, equality proofing pay systems, making sure workplaces are safe and healthy, and helping their colleagues get access to new skills and qualifications.
If I sound somewhat cynical and world weary about all this….please forgive me, I am.
Today saw the 7th press release in 12 months about trade unions from the TPA (who are of course, NOT an alliance of ordinary tax-payers but a opaquely funded right-wing ginger group). And earlier today I also had the pleasure of debating the issue with Matthew Sinclair of the TPA on the ‘Daily Politics’.
Being honest of course, we all know this isn’t really a debate about the legal framework for trade union facility time – its simply a pre-Congress opportunity for the TPA to get in some opportunistic union bashing. For the full facts about facility time, here’s a briefing the TUC produced in January 2012.
Of course its worth noting that the largest, most representative organisation of tax-payers in the UK is actually the trade union movement – 6 million working people, the overwhelming majority of whom actually do pay their taxes, in full, week after week, month after month. Can the TPA make the same claim about all of its ‘supporters’?