From the TUC

Facility Time – Here we go again

01 Jul 2010, By

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up the invitation recently extended by the government for suggestions from the public for laws they would like to see repealed, the Taxpayers Alliance has shown that it has its finger on the pulse of the nation and the real concerns of employers (no, not really) by suggesting that one of the laws that it would like to see repealed is the one that provides for paid facility time for union reps.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

4 Responses to Facility Time – Here we go again

  1. Tweets that mention Facility Time – Here we go again | STRONGER UNIONS —
    Jul 1st 2010, 3:33 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carmen D'Cruz. Carmen D'Cruz said: RT @OtherTPA: RT @strongerunions: Facility Time – Here we go again: Taxpayers Alliance – NOT an alliance of ordinary tax payers […]

  2. Nick Venedi
    Jul 1st 2010, 8:59 pm

    Many trade union reps have sacrificed their own careers and spend most of their working lives not progressing and fighting to defend others. Their input and intervention keeps the balance and often saves the employer time and expense. An employer would have to consult with say 300 members of staff on an individual basis where there is no elected rep during a reorganisation. There is no way that elected tu officers are not worth their while. Section 188 of the TULRC Act 1992 on its own confers a statutory power and rights onto elected reps. The alliance should worry more about the cost to taxpayers in areas where there are no reps! I know this from doing a tu job for 22 years!
    Nick Venedi

  3. Carl Roper

    Carl Roper
    Jul 2nd 2010, 12:22 pm

    Thanks for the comment Nick.

    You are absolutely correct about the potential impact of union activity on the careers of people who volunteer to become reps. This is actually acknowledged by HR professionals. The TUC did a survey of HR professionals a short while back and around 30% agreed that being a union rep might have an negative effect on a persons future career prospects.

  4. Nick Venedi
    Jul 2nd 2010, 4:13 pm

    I am so glad you mentioned the Cipd study which I am aware of, I remember the headlline in the magazine Personnel Today (cipd magazine) which attracted my attention and that of others. The article stated that many activists who were on facility time had much lower chances to progress. We don’t need many evidence as I know of people who have been put in that position with very little or no support at the end of it. Thanks for pointing it out.
    Nick Venedi