Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has written to the Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council asking her to implement new Government guidance on the funding of Trade Union officials by the council taxpayer.
The central recommendation in the new guidance, issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is that councils should save taxpayers’ money by significantly scaling back on the cost of so-called trade union facility time – paid time off during working hours for council employees to carry out union activities. The guidance specifically states that employees should not be spending all or the majority of their working hours on trade union duties. The guidance also recommends that councillors should declare payments and sponsorship from trade unions and ensure there is no conflict of interest.
Cllr Theobald said: “Whilst I appreciate the advantage of trade union representatives being able to devote the time to represent their own members, they do have significant funds of their own to draw upon. Therefore, at last week’s Budget Council meeting, for the second year running, we put down an amendment seeking to reduce the funding by council taxpayers of Trade Union representatives. Unfortunately, this was defeated by an alliance of Green and Labour councillors, many of whom failed to declare their union membership at the meeting. Residents have suggested to me that this is a clear conflict of interest and I tend to agree.”
Last year the Council spent well over £¼ million of council taxpayers’ money on Trade Union activity and Cllr. Theobald has asked the Chief Executive to clarify exactly what the figure is for this year.
Group Finance Spokesperson, Cllr. Ann Norman added: “We understand that trade union members working for a council need to be represented in the workplace. However, I think that it is reasonable to question just how much of this cost is borne by hard-pressed council taxpayers and so I welcome this new Government guidance and look forward to its implementation.”