Saturday, October 23, 2010

Having your cake and eating it

It never ceases to amaze me how some civil servants just don't get it where it comes to a recession and who actually provides the money to pay them. The civil service unions are even worse for this, many are actually paid by the state to be union reps in their places of employment and of course they fiddle the system to get what they want.

An undercover investigation by Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham, found that officials at unions were telling members how to campaign against the Government's cuts programme on the taxpayers’ time.
The news emerged as Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, announced plans for a national demonstration in Hyde Park in London against the cuts on 26 March next year. 
Ms Patel set up a bogus email account and contacted the officials, asking whether it was possible to attend demonstrations on “facility time" to carry out their union duties during office hours.
One official said she could be “economical with the truth about your use of the time you may be able to claim facilities time” while another suggested she could “pop it down as a union meeting and be creative about how you spend your union time”.
Last night, Ms Patel told The Daily Telegraph: “The hard working law abiding majority will be disgusted to see trade union officials suggesting ways that their members can fiddle the system and act dishonestly to get time off.
“Any civil servant using facility time to attend these political demonstrations should be disciplined and there need to be a full investigation into the way trades unions are abusing taxpayers.
"It is unacceptable for taxpayers to be left footing the bill for trade unions' political campaigning and union members abusing the system in this way should be regarded with the same disdain as crooks, fraudsters and benefit cheats."
Ms Patel, 38, a rising star who entered Parliament in May, used an alias “John Wright” to email a number of union officials this week, asking if it was possible to attend a Trades Union Congress-organised rally against the cuts using "facility time", because his holiday entitlement had run out.
Under official guidance, officials are only allowed paid time off as "facility time", typically 25 days a year, for a “tightly defined set of duties” including “negotiating with employers, representing members, performing the duties of an accredited Health & Safety rep and of an accredited Union Learning Rep”.
Laura Cockram, head of campaigns at the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “It depends which dept [sic] you're in and how vigilant your management is regarding facility time.
“You could pop it down as a union meeting and be creative about how you spend your union time, however I wouldn't advise you to do that.”
Andrew Freemantle, another PCS organiser, replied: “If you are economical with the truth about your use of the time you may be able to claim facilities time. Look forward to seeing you.”
Shirley Mills, regional organiser at Unison, said: “I don't think you can use facility time to attend the rally and lobby as the employer may see it as activities rather than duties.
“Please inform your manager that you will be meeting with the Regional Organiser this should avoid any problems.”
Simon Weller, an official at Aslef, told her that facility time can only be used for “trade union duties’ in relation to your elected post. Demos and the like come under the label “trade union activities” which are not covered by your facility time”.
He added: “Although, if you've found something legitimate to do at the depot/meeting etc in the morning and then you could attend the demo in the afternoon.”
Bernie Pardon, an official at the NASUWT teaching union, replied: “I don't know who you are? Which union? What branch / association? I'm using facility time tomorrow if that helps.”
Last night Mr Weller from Aslef stood by his comments. He said a lot of his members worked in shift patterns and it would have been fine “if he [“John Wright”] was finished his shift, if he was free and in the area”.
A TUC spokesman said: “Union reps are entitled to paid time off for duties such as negotiating with employers and representing members in grievance and disciplinary matters.
“While there is no obligation for employers to pay reps time off for activities such as attending union meetings and events, many do provide paid time off as an acknowledgement of the valuable role played by union reps.”
A PCS spokesman said: “We're proud of all our reps who not only do their day jobs under increasingly difficult conditions, but also work hard to support their colleagues and improve their working lives - more often than not taking union work home with them to do in the evenings and at weekends.
First off, you want to be in a union fine, however it is a voluntary thing and you should not be paid by the state when doing union activities, any union activities.
Second, you aren't cheating your employer, you're cheating the people who are taxed in order to pay you, you're betraying the general public by attempting to be paid to go and protest.
Unions have been abusing taxpayer funds for years now with the Using the Trade Union Reform Act, Mandelson established the Trade Union Learning Fund in 2006 which along with the Union Modernisation fund more or less matches trade union contributions to the Labour party with a cash grant to the unions to help in reform, basically it's a scam.
Civil service unions are perhaps the worst in being militant these days, they've been coddled by the state with decent rises without increases in productivity or efficiency. It's time I think they came down to earth and learned what real life is all about as those of us in the private sector have figured. If they are planning on milking a corrupt system to protest about cuts, then plainly they need to be the first ones out. Lets see them try to pull that one in the private sector.

2 annotations:

James Higham said...

It's really sad that it has come down to this, isn't it?

John M Ward said...

I became aware of a number of dodges, wheezes and uses of official time (and property!) by the Unions during my time on Medway Council, typically spotted by one or more of our number when visiting certain places away from the council offices themselves.

Some of the members got to be quite good at finding these things going on, and I'm sure that one day they will be in a position to divulge the full details of their finds.

Even from what little I myself happen to know of these, I can promise that this will be fascinating and revealing stuff!