TRADE UNION REFORM CAMPAIGN
Mark ClarkeChief ExecutiveTrade Union Reform Campaign104 Oakley StreetLondonSW3 5NR Rt Hon Francis Maude MPCabinet Office70 WhitehallLondonSW1A 2AS
September 2012 Dear Mr Maude, Firstly, can I thank you on behalf of the Trade Union Reform Campaign for consulting on reforming TradeUnion Facility time. As you are aware TURC has been campaigning on time issue ever since we uncoveredthe actions of “Nurse” Jane Pilgrim who was a fulltime activist paid for by St Georges’ Hospital in Tooting.We are delighted that so many Members of Parliament have joined our advisory council because they tooare so concerned about this issue. Whilst you have invited responses only from Trade Unions themselves we felt it was important for youto have the fullest possible information at your disposal and would be grateful if you would consider thefollowing submission.
Reporting and benchmarking
In the consultation document it is suggested that the Government publish all facility time and createbenchmarks to ensure some consistency throughout Whitehall. We welcome the acceptance of the need for transparency, but we believe that this can only an interimmeasure. We would encourage the Government to implement this step only in order to assist in makingthe case to the public for abolition. Transparency is a means not an end however it is a step in the rightdirection. On the issue of benchmarking, ACAS guidelines say it is good practice for formal facility time agreementsto be in place. We have yet to find any public body with such formal guidelines. This should be mandatedand published. That way management will have their decisions on employing pilgrims open to publicscrutiny and the public can hold pilgrims to account.
Limiting 100% facility time representatives
In the consultation document it is suggested that the Government end the practice of employing full timeTrade Union Representatives. However, this implies that the Government might be content to see peoplespending 50% of their time on paid union duties. Recently Rachel Reeves MP (Lab, Leeds West), asked what the practical difference was between oneperson spending all their time on Union work and two people spending 50% of their time. The cost to thetaxpayer is the same and we risk going round in circles. Abolition represents best value for the taxpayer and avoids the risk of the time they take creeping up again once the issue is out of the headlines. We maintain that abolition removes any ambiguity and polling data suggests 86% of the public share our view.