Peter Lazenby (chairman of the Leeds branch of the NUJ) isn’t happy. In fact, he’s downright concerned:
The government has opened a new front in its war on Britain’s trade unions. It is attempting to wreck trade union organisation among hundreds of thousands of local authority workers by saddling unions with millions of pounds in costs.
It is..? Really..?
Well, no, actually:
Here’s what is happening. Councils give union representatives – elected convenors or shop stewards – time to do their union work. It’s called “time off for union duties”. The work is the nuts and bolts of trades union activity, such as representing people at disciplinary and grievance hearings. Some of it fulfils people’s statutory right to be represented.
Some convenors with thousands of members work full time on union duties, although they are employees of the councils, who pay their wages.
No, no, no, Peter. The councils don’t ‘pay their wages’. We do. Us, the ratepayers.
And we’re sick of it.
For example in my city, Leeds, the secretary of the council branch of the public service union Unison, which has 8,000 members, is a social worker, but spends all his time on union duties.
So, the city of Leeds has one fewer social worker, helping to save the ickle kiddiewinks, yet still drawing a salary?
It is in councils’ interests to have such a system.
Clearly, they don’t think so. And they’re right.
It helps maintain smooth industrial relations.
Does it? Has that theory ever been tested?
Well, we’ll soon find out…
In Leeds, Conservative councillors are attempting to sabotage the arrangement by calling on the Labour-controlled council to stop paying the union convenors’ wages, and make the unions find the money.
*SHRIEK!!!!* How awful..!
About bloody time…
At first I thought the plan might be a one-off from some ambitious, union-loathing Tory wanting to make a name for himself, and make life difficult for the unions. It isn’t. It’s happening across the country, with other Tory councillors making similar proposals or preparing the ground for them.
The Tories are even targeting union organisation in police authorities. If successful, it would financially cripple public sector unions.
Local authorities spend billions of pounds a year in taxpayers’ money to provide refuse collection, street cleaning, housing, old people’s homes, state education and other services. Some Tories want the billions it costs to run these services handed to the profit-hungry private sector. Union organisation is the biggest single obstacle to this aim, so it has to be removed.
Oh, sure, you’re just fighting for the little guy, aren’t you?
If the Tory strategy succeeds, remaining services in the public sector will be privatised and their provision will be motivated by profit, not people’s needs.
Newsflash, Peter; these services aren’t run for people’s needs at the moment; they are run for the convenience of the people providing them!
Dividends and bonuses will be the key factors in running our schools and old people’s homes.
Great! Better that, than political correctness and cosy ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ policies…
Margaret Thatcher recognised that organised labour was the biggest stumbling block confronting privatisation. Now David Cameron and his allies plan to finish the job of destroying union organisation.
For once, I’m firmly behind iDave, then!