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Union reps cost Brighton and Hove £1m per year
Councils, the fire service and the NHS are spending an estimated £1 million a year paying union officials’ salaries.
Just days after Brighton and Hove City Council discovered it had to find an extra £10 million to balance its budget next year, it was revealed the local authority spent more than £500,000 for union representatives in 2011/12.
Last year, the city council paid for the equivalent of seven full-time employees for the Unison, GMB, NUT, NASUWT and ATL unions.
The bill was last night defended by Phil Clarke, the secretary of the Brighton and Hove Trade Unions Council.
He said: “There are two ways of looking at it. The TUC has done research and every pound spent on facility time saves the taxpayer money because there are fewer industrial tribunals and difficulties at work.
“It helps smooth industrial relations in public services. It is not simply a gift to the trade unions. It has been won over the years so employees have protection at work.
“It is something we will not concede lightly in the first place and is a major right to have someone with you when a disciplinary either fairly or unfairly happens.”
East Sussex Fire and Rescue had the highest number of full-time equivalent staff working for trade unions of all the fire services in the country.
It funded the equivalent of four full-time staff last year, at a cost of £112,115. The figures, released by the TaxPayers Alliance showed the total spent on union activities by Sussex councils, NHS trusts and fire services topped £1 million in the last 12 months.
The same authorities revealed they spent about £980,000 the year before.
Both figures are likely to be an underestimate of the true cost as some authorities failed to reply to the Freedom of Information request.
Matthew Sinclair, the chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It is simply wrong that taxpayers are seeing their money used to pay thousands of trade union activists who organise strikes which disrupt the services they rely on and pay for handsomely.
“Thousands of staff who should be working for public services are working for the trade unions instead.”
At the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles denounced the funding of union activity by the state as a form of stealth taxation.
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