UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said today that Eric Pickles had got it wrong on
trade union facility time. Far from costing taxpayers money, trade union
involvement has a very positive impact on the workplace.
Research commissioned by the Department for Business in 2007 suggested that effective and engaged union representation saves the public purse between £170m and £400m a
year by improving retention, training take-up, health and safety, and dispute
resolution; and as much as £3.6bn a year through general productivity
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“Attacking trade unions who work with employers to create an efficient, more motivated
workplace is just plain daft. Workers have a right to be represented.
“If trade union stewards are going to represent staff properly, they
need time away from their usual jobs to do it. Public sector reps already
contribute up to 100,000 unpaid hours every week. What’s more, collective
bargaining saves cash. If councils or the NHS had to negotiate individually with
all their staff, they would be forced to spend a fortune on consultants or
“Public services are facing savage cut backs and workers have
a right to have their voices heard and rightly expect their union reps to be
there to help them when they need them most.
“Trade union facility time
makes good business sense, and any attempts to cut it will end up costing the
– A report for the Department of Trade and Industry in
2007, said that the UK’s 350,000 workplace reps brought in benefits worth £476
million to £1,133 million annually.
– A TUC report in December 2009 said
that trade union involvement boosted productivity by making people feel listened
to, and more in control of their working lives.
– Reps in the public
sector contribute up to 100,000 unpaid hours of their own time each week to
carry out their union duties, the research showed. This is time that directly
benefits public services and the people who work in them. – The DTI estimates
this productivity boost is worth between £3.4 billion, and £10.2 billion to the