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£30m! Councils spend fortunes to cover the cost of their staff doing trade union work

  • Nine of ten authorities that spent £5.2 million of taxpayers’ cash are Labour-run
  • Birmingham City Council spent £1.2 million while being criticised for ‘severe maladministration’ by housing watchdog
  • TfL, run by Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, spent £6.4 million on union facility time

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Millions of pounds are being spent by councils to allow their officials to moonlight as trade union activists, new Government figures have shown.

At a time when strikes are crippling services including transport and the Health Service, an astonishing £30 million was spent by local authorities to cover the cost of their workers engaging in trade union work.

The data from the Cabinet Office showed that out of the ten authorities which spent the most on union activity – a total of £5.2 million of taxpayers’ cash – nine of them are Labour-run. This included Birmingham City Council, which spent £1.2 million while being criticised for ‘severe maladministration’ by the housing watchdog.

Transport for London – run by Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan, who added £40 to Londoners’ council tax to fund TfL – spent £6.4 million on union facility time as a series of strikes by well-paid Tube drivers brought the capital to a standstill.

At a time when strikes are crippling services including transport and the Health Service, an astonishing £30 million was spent by local authorities to cover the cost of their workers engaging in trade union work. Pictured: UNISON strike over pay for Ambulance call centre staff

At a time when strikes are crippling services including transport and the Health Service, an astonishing £30 million was spent by local authorities to cover the cost of their workers engaging in trade union work. Pictured: UNISON strike over pay for Ambulance call centre staff

Facility time cash represents wages paid to public servants while they carry out trade union activity, including handing out leaflets or planning strike action. Militant trade unions including Unite, Unison and GMB represent many local authority workers and are among Labour’s biggest financial backers.

Councils receive three-quarters of their income from council taxes and business rates, and the rest from Government grants.

Last night Tory MP Mark Jenkinson said it was ‘proof that Labour councils are out of control and throwing taxpayers’ money at the trade unions’ in return for generous donations to Labour’s war chest.

He added: ‘No wonder Labour want to abolish transparency rules on facility time to keep this hidden. Taxpayers have a right to know where their cash is going.’ Analysis of the newly published data shows that SNP-run Glasgow City Council spent the most on facility time last year, paying out £1.3 million in wages to officials for time spent organising union activity.

Meanwhile Labour-run councils spent hundreds of thousands on union facility time, including South Lanarkshire Council, which spent £534,735, Nottingham City Council (£385,827) and Tower Hamlets Council (£384,729). This is despite many of these councils asking for more public money from central government and forcing residents to pay among the highest council tax rates in the country.

The Local Government Association said: ‘Proper discussion and consultation with staff requires the use of reasonable facility time by union representatives and so some reasonable expenditure is inevitable. Councils are taking steps to ensure that the system is always used properly.’

Last year, the then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – now Business Secretary – pledged to introduce a cap on facility time as part of a plan to smash the unions’ power and stop them from holding the country to ransom.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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