Don’t you just love soundbite politics? A few months a ago it came to light that in the public services a number of union reps were actually being paid by the state to do their union jobs rather than say the unions themselves actually paying them. They became known as Pilgrims after Jane Pilgrim a nurse who was the first to come to light. Still, today was finally the day that Cameron deigned to mention it, though so far there’s a stark lack of movement to actually outlaw the practice, many in the public sector union leadership seeing nothing wrong with the practice (well they would wouldn’t they)
Using taxpayers’ money to fund trade union activity while at work cannot be justified “morally or economically”, the prime minister has said.
In a letter to Tory MP Aidan Burley, who is campaigning on the issue, David Cameron said the “public subsidy to the trade unions” could not be sustained.
He also said Labour “cannot distance itself from this scandal”.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said employers valued the contribution unions made in the workplace.
Cameron reiterated his support for moves to stop the practice of government departments and public bodies paying salaries of staff serving as union officials.
The TUC’s Mr Barber said the last government review of the issue in 2007 suggested that union representatives boosted productivity and reduced absenteeism.
He said it added that public sector union reps give 100,000 hours of their own time every week to the UK taxpayer.
“Successive governments have recognised the moral, legal and economic case for supporting workplace reps – this government would be wise to do likewise and to avoid what appear to be ideologically driven announcements designed to appease right-wing backbenchers.”
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said: “It is extraordinary he [Mr Cameron] doesn’t appear to understand how the system works, or understand that representatives – far from being a drain on the taxpayer – benefit the economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year in terms of resolving disputes, organising staff training and being involved in health and safety arrangements.”
I don’t know which planet Mr. Barber comes from, but it does appear that he hasn’t grasped the principle that the public services are funded by the public, not the government and that it’s our pockets he and his chums are picking.
It’s rather laughable that the PCS also believes that somehow or other the public services union reps are a benefit to the economy in the way they believe, I’d suggest that if they are that good then the unions themselves should fund them out of their membership fees.
The thing is, the Government could quite easily outlaw the practice, wouldn’t take much in the way of legislation either, just a directive to the various publicly funded areas that they must not under any circumstances fund trade union activities from their budgets.
As it is, the only reason the government are going to town on it is simply because the unions have upped the ante by striking over pensions.
I somehow have the feeling that when this all ends we (the public) will still be funding these parasites via the public purse.