November 25th, 2011

To Be a Pilgrim
Number of Taxpayer Funded Trade Unionists Goes Up

Last year the Taxpayers’ Alliance undertook their largest ever Freedom of Information request investigation to try to ascertain how many full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials there were in the public sector. Guido has been at the forefront of the campaign against what he named Pilgrims. Today the Taxpayers’ Alliance have announced that this year, in a time of austerity, government bungs to trade unions, which takes money from your wallet to pay for their strikes, have increased.

There are now 2,840 of these non-workers, who instead of being paid to teach or nurse, or regulate the paperclips, are funded to do trade union activity, on office time, in the office. Guido would put the suggested total bill to the taxpayer of £113m down as a conservative estimate. Once the free office space which should be charged to an outside group at commercial rates is taken into consideration, along with the fact that many organisations masked how many “Pilgrims” they really have by not playing ball with the FoIs, the real cost is much, much higher. So when you see those workers on strike next week, remember that you have paid for the organisation, staffing and planning, that should have been covered by union subscriptions. Instead the union subs went to the Labour Party to the tune of over £13 million last year. And don’t forget that someone else has to be employed to cover the job the taxpayer-funded agitators should be doing. So we’re whacked twice…


  1. 1
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:

    surely someone should hang for this?

    • 4
      UKIP. The Conservative's home says:

      Not to mention the BBC.

    • 9
      Privilege says:

      Why was Chris Huhne absolutely certain last night that he will not be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice?

      Is he in denial or has he been told what the CPS decision will be?

      • 15

        Chris Huhne – I explained this months ago. There is someone within the CPS who has serious political ambition, now it has been “explained” to him that being the man that sent an MP to jail would cut that rather short, so to gain internal favour certain things need to “go wrong” in regards to this investigation.
        According to a drunken friend months back, they tried to dump this during the Tory conference, but couldn’t, my drunk friend has since gone clean, but the whisper is, they need a bad day to quietly release the “bad” news that this really comes done to one persons word against another, and, well, hmm, we don’t think we could win the case.
        Lets face it, there is only so long you can hang on to something like this, and you need to dump in the best possible manner, without anyone really noticing it.
        Anyway, this isn’t really important, the question I have is, which party is this CPS guy going to jump on board with, I hear Labour but why would he want a deal with Chris?

        • 33
          Anonymous says:

          I think you exaggerate Huhne’s importance.

          • Handycock, sex Tourist on taxpayer's money says:

            But not his membership of the Brotherhood. That is really what is at work here. Boaz.

        • 39
          Engineer says:

          In which case, Huhne must the only person in government praying for the Euro to go tits-up in the next fortnight.

          He might just get his wish, too.

        • 51
          Mr Average says:

          I’m an ordinary bloke – well, ok, I read this blog – who is normally pretty tame. But … But there’s something about Huhne that makes me wish ill of him – very very ill indeed.

        • 99
          Anonymous says:

          Oh dear GBnlG,if you are right then Lord Justice Denning must be wrong in saying “be you ever so high you are not above the law”.

      • 32
        Cynical-old-bag says:

        …or what information has Hu*ne got on somebody else higher up the chain?

    • 11
      Lefty Dave says:

      Dave’s government is absolute shite. It is positioned to the left of the left and is spending more than the official left.

      • 40
        Engineer says:

        Actually, not quite true. The Ballsonomics approach would involve even more borrowing and spending.

        Mind you, it’s almost a difference without a distinction, the way things are going.

    • 55
      Teaboy says:

      What about the number of tax payer funded banks and bankers?

      Oh that’s right, the TPA don’t mind funding their own.

      • 76
        The Paragnostic says:

        Are those the banks bailed out by Labour? We’re stuck with them, unfortunately – our best hope is that we won’t lose too much when we have to sell them. I wonder if Darling agreed firm sale dates for the rest of the shambles he inflicted as deputy Chancellor / milk monitor under Brown?

        • 84
          Teaboy says:

          Yeah those ones. Thanks for the history lesson, but where is the TPA outrage? That’s right, there is none.

          It’s a hell of a lot more expensive than this side show.

          • 'wolf says:

            Though once the banks have been sold back the cost ends, the union costs are year on year recurring costs.

          • Teaboy says:


            Are you kidding me? Are you forgetting the £50 billion ‘bad bank’ of Northern Rock that we’re not selling?

            I wouldn’t rely on Guido Fawkes or the other neo-liberal apologists who live here for your news.

            Whipping up a small-scale government support for Labour (as in the people) whilst ignoring the sinking ship we’ve become by propping up bad Capital is the outrage of the century.

  2. 2
    EC1 PhD says:

    I would like a photo directory of pilgrims on the picket line to help with the aim of the eggs

    • 119
      test says:

      hurry up Guido, I’m getting a bit bored waiting for your contra Leveson big midday exclusive eath shattering blog.

  3. 3
    B Boyd says:

    Nothing to see hear.

  4. 5
    Jane Pig Grim says:

    xxx :)

  5. 5
    Lady Virginia Droit de Seigneur. says:

    Symptomatic of wish-ashy iDave’s government – immigration up, deficit up, government spending up, unemployment up and taxpayer funded union parasites up.

    Well done Dave – fucking ace.

    • 21
      Mrs 'Proper PM' T says:

      I can’t seem to find the conservative party, can anyone show me where it’s gone

      • 27
        Pissed off former Tory voter says:

        Down the fucking toilet. Let’s hope on present performance it stays there.

    • 44
      Rusty Dave Cameron says:

      Dont forget that I have increased your taxes to pay the EU as well.

      And I have a nice deal going with Turkey – Britain takes their unemployed, I get Turkeys support for my push to be EU President in 4 years.

      Toodle pip povs.

  6. 7
    Dazza says:

    Fucking obscene.

  7. 8
    God says:

    The public-sector is rotten to the core – apallingly manaaged and over-staffed, these dinosaurs of the socialist era are anathema to any sane person! The sooner some government has the guts to privatise those with some purpose and close those which we don’t need, the better. Why are the English so addicted to so-called “public services”? Beats me!

    • 12
      Grammar School Boy says:

      Privatise everything except the direct legislature, the judiciary and the military.

      • 14
        Dick the Prick says:

        The military can be sold

        • 42
          Engineer says:

          Short of looting and pillage, how do the Army make a profit?

          • Tax Payer says:

            How does any government function make a profit?

            The privatisation profit comes from charging the government excessive and obscene fee’s for the service.

          • Must get a pseudonym one day says:

            The Egyptian Army does – it physically owns tourist resorts, factories, you name it. Interesting model of privatisation……

          • The Paragnostic says:

            Not to mention the Chinese Army, which owns all sorts of things including contract manufacturing plants that make laptops, smartphones, etc. They also benefit from slave labour…

      • 19
        Maximus says:

        GSB, you haven’t noticed the privateering going in what used to be called the Civil Service?

      • 26
        Devils' Dumplings says:

        Don’t bother with the Military, they’ve been screwed-over already; there’s nowt left of any note.

        Don’t you wish the NHS could be put on the same funding diet as the Armed Forces?

        (Note: ARMED FORCES not the MoD – 2 very different kettles of fish)

        • 83
          God says:

          The NHS is the worst example of how NOT to run anything! Incompetent, over-paid so-called “managers” proliferate, staff discipline is now non-existent, unions rule everything and the whole thing soaks up supertanker loads of money like a sponge! It should be sold off as soon as possible, but what government has the guts to do what needs to be done with it!!!

  8. 10
    Trade Union Official says:

    But….but….but…oh fuck off.

  9. 13
    Anonymous says:

    This is boring. Can’t we have a link to Grant Shapps “meltdown” on Radio 4?

    • 16
      EC1 PhD says:

      I thought he stood his ground quite well. He made clear he had to be on the train to Stoke and the BBC made up the rest, just as they like. Humphries accepted the point eventually only after trying to bully Shapps about BBC procedural bullshit being followed, copious notes taken etc and then accusing first him and then his officials of pulling out of the interview. Typical Today programme stuff.

      • 92
        A woman says:

        Humphries spent so long trying to defend the indefensible and cover up a blatent politically-motivated BBC lie,there was seldom any time left for the actual interview.

  10. 17
    Sing Leftie, sing says:

    And they’ll all be out on strike on Wednesday too. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

  11. 18
    Maximus says:

    What better proof that the political divisions in the UK are false and illusory, and that they would be very very different if there were a truly free market in ideas and the exchange of information, instead of one in which two cheeks of the arse belonging to a paid for buffooning imposter calling itself Democracy are alternately mooned insolently day and night at the public.

  12. 20
    Gordon Brown is still in his Downing Street bunker says:

    Who seriously believes David Cameron is running the country?

    Gordon Brown’s Downing Street walk-away with his family was all for the cameras. The reason that GB is not doing his constituency work is not that he is speaking at international events, no the real reason for his low profile must be that he is still running the country in Downing Street.

    Look at the policies? Can you spot the difference?

    What a disaster!

  13. 22
    Solomon Hughes says:

    It isn’t quite true to say there are “2,840 of these non-workers” – as the Taxpayers Alliance make clear “There are now at least the equivalent of 2,840 full time staff ” on “facility time” – – the key word being “equivalent” but the majority of these will be office reps, stewards, and the like who will work , say 4.5 days a week as a tax collector, but spend half a day a week meeting management or dealing with members over union matters – disciplinaries, talks about conditions etc.

    That’s a pretty standard arrangement in unionised sections of private industry as well as the public sector – the union steward still gets paid their wages for the time they take off the job to do their union work – it is part of the basic “facilities agreement”. To change this situation in any unionised workplace – public or private – means changing the facilities agreement. Typically a faiclities agreement will have guidelines about the amount of time that can be taken off for union duties.

    So the figures show that there are far more than 2,840 union reps taking time off for union duties , but they are generally taking off less time than 5 days a week. “100% facility time” posts – full time union officials still in receipt of salary – do exist , but they are not the norm

    • 38
      Cynical-old-bag says:

      Oh, I see. Like Nurse P*lgrim – who was also running her own business on top of everything else, whilst drawing a public sector salary.

      Half a day a week on un*on business? I don’t think so.

      • 54
        Solomon Hughes says:

        All you have to do is either (a) have any experience of industrial relations or (b) read the notes to the Taxpayers Alliance report and you will see that (unsurprisingly) the structure of workplace representation is pyramidical – at the top Branch Chairs , Secretaries, Convenors etc, below them a large number of reps and stewards. While some of the Chairs and Secretaries are indeed full time, (some are 17.5 hrs some less – depending on size and local traditions etc.), most stewards are 1hr a week or 4hrs a week or a day a week on “facility time” – which is why the Taxpayers Alliance use the phrase “eqivalent of 2,840 full time staff” – this is an “equvalent” rather than an actual figure – there are in fact many more than 2,840 union reps using facility time (paid time off) , but most of these are part time, not full time reps

        • 63
          The Paragnostic says:

          However you define it, or try to justify it, “facility time” is still a subsidy paid by the employer to the union, to allow union work to be done at the employer’s expense.

          In the case of the public sector, that is the taxpayer paying for union work to be done at our expense rather than the unions’. Looks like a protection racket to me, however you wish to paint it.

        • 64
          Cynical-old-bag says:

          I can see what the structure is, but in Nurse P*lgrim’s case, it didn’t stop her running her own business on time which was clearly paid for by someone else, did it.

          It all has to come down to trust – a bit like the MP’s expenses.

        • 67
          The Wisdom of the Ages says:

          However you boil it, Solomon, there are a lot of people doing nothing but agitating in paid time against the people who pay their wages. The likes of the Pilgrims, f’rinstance, are paid by the NHS to stir up against the NHS in the NHS’s time.

          Anything about this strike you as odd?

          • Solomon Hughes says:

            To behonest it doesn’t seem odd – the unions have won some of their demands. That’s what they are there for. The unions have won higher pay and better conditions for their members (the “Union Premium”) and they have won a level of support from the employer (the “Facilities Agreement”) – the ‘facilities’ for union organisation they have won include things like notice boards, the use of an office for holding talks with their members, the use of ‘company’ rooms for members meetings, and time off for union reps to do a bit of union work. They made this demand because it makes it easier for them to serve their members – which is what unions are there for. If the union couldn’t win better wages and union facilities, there would be no point in joining one. This isn’t quite “a lot of people doing nothing but agitating in paid time” , as most people involved are part timers, office reps and stewards doing a couple of hours a week representing members – so it might be more accurate to say ” a lot of people taking a bit of time off work to agitate for better conditions” – which is what unions do and why millions of people join them. Unions seek – and win – similar “facilities agreements” in both the public and private sector.

  14. 23
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:

    Talking about being whacked severally, I thought Mosley was impressive yesterday.

  15. 24
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:

    sp. Moseley. See me!

    • 61
      Wendy Bendy says:

      Certainly better than that leftie cow J K Rowlinginmoney. She sells millions of God-awful books solely on advertising and media placements, and she then has the nerve to complain that the gutter press is hounding her.

      • 103
        CYNICAL OLD MAN says:

        I’m surprised Rowling manages to get her head stuck so far up her own arse when you think of the size of those chips on her shoulders.

        Moseley is a chip off the old block what with his dad having been leader of the British Union of Fascists and his Hitler loving mother even more extreme than her husband. I closed my eyes when he was giving his so-called evidence and I could swear blind it was his dad speaking.

        Most of the degenerates who’ve given evidence so far ( excluding the Dowlers – although there’s now some doubt over Millie’s phone being hacked and her massages were automatically deleted by the phone company – something about the memory technology of the time) have only themselves and their sleazy behaviour to blame for the bad publicity. That they have a dubious morality totally at odds with the public image they like to project is being shown as beyond doubt. I would also suggest that the self pitying “evidence” they gave to the enquiry only exposed their moral deficiencies.

  16. 25
    Durham Lad says:

    Well done Guido for mentioning the office costs, Durham County Council offer 4 offices free to the unions (Freedom of Information answer) when other clients who lease space actually pay! We can assume that heating, lighting, IT services and the like will all be thrown in…

    The £113m could possibly be doubled and still be a conservative estimate.

  17. 28
    William Bradford says:

    The Pilgrims of Plimoth colony, New World, impress upon me a consternation most dire, that they are confused with Jane Pilgrim and suchlike of her ilk. They should like me to announce to all and sundry, that they unlike their English counterparts work to earn their daily bread and impose themselves not on their fellows. ‘Tis most distressing this story ariseth the day after the one luxury of a holiday we do allow ourselves, and the colonists do wish that this be not taken as indolence upon their part, that they idled yesterday, after a turkey dinner and quaffing of ale, with a game of bowls. It shall not be repeated till November next. Jane Pilgrim, by way of contrast, doth allow herself indolence most egregious, that she engageth in the Devil’s work of politics whilst ostensibly hired to perform her regular employment; a Curse be upon her head!

  18. 29
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:

    Reckons this should go the third umpire.

  19. 30
    Cynical-old-bag says:

    Isn’t it about time the bloody Unions funded their own workers, like the private sector have to?

    I’m so sick of putting my hand in my pocket for all and sundry.

  20. 35
    Quentin Langley says:

    The government also collects money for the unions, by deducting union dues at source. This is a valuable service that would cost the unions a great deal to do themselves, and gives them the value of inertia. A disgruntled member is compelled actively to resign, and cannot let membership simply lapse.

  21. 41
    Tom Baldwin's Liebour Ajax supplier says:




















  22. 43
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:
  23. 45
    Derek says:

    This weeks Wiltshire Times has an feature on four pathetic individuals moaning about their VERY generous pensions. SACK the lot.

  24. 47
    lola says:

    Actually it costs us three times their pay. They get paid. They do no work. We employ someone else to do it, who could have been employed elsewhere productively.

    I am getting ever closer to taking the rolls of piano wire and drain rope I have stored away specially, then with three big mates going to have a little chat with these parasites. And I absolutely abhor violence of any kind, but really…..

  25. 48
    Old geezer says:

    The only useful thing Cameron has done so far is get Brown out of Downing Street. The next useful thing he can do is get out himself.

  26. 50
    Billy Bowden is the greatest umpire ever ! says:

    Please be aware that one right wing blogger,Billy Bowden, is expected to take part in a day of industrial action over pension reforms on Wednesday 30th November 2011 and this action will affect the Caption Competiton

  27. 56
    Public Sector Workers and their unions 'avin' a laff at 99% of the British Public says:

    The fact is that the “public sector” do not create wealth…now it’s all very well having first class public services etc etc when the country can afford them but the fact is that the UK is manufacturing very little,the private sector is not creating anything like the number of jobs that the government predicted and what jobs there are are not going to the indigenous unemployed but to foreign workers(you can argue the merits or not of this).It’s no good having a “Rolls Royce” public sector if the country only warrants on its present income a clapped out old Morris Minor one.

    The public sector have been cushioned from the worst of the recession etc.Even after these reforms they will still be better off that those private sector workers.The strikes next week on low overall turnouts in the strike ballots are just taking the piss out of the 99% of British Public who don’t work in the public sector and who would give their eye teeth for such generous pension provisions..there’s 2.5 million unemployed who would be only too willing to do some of these public sector jobs…the government should start acting like Reagan did when the Air Traffic Controllers went on strike in the USA start sacking some of them….unfortunately I suspect they haven’t the balls for such strong response and will likely cave in after a few face saving announcements…Cameron is the Heir to Heath not Thatcher after all…….

    • 59
      If I were Dave says:

      It is time that Dave showed some balls and introduced a law that Union ballots calling for strike action are only legal when 50% or more of the membrship vote.

      And that is being more than reasonable as my gut instinct says it should be 75% or more.

  28. 57
    Is nothing done in private these days? says:
  29. 58
    chancers says:

    41 Union officials working in Northern Ireland’s health trusts, costing over £1million…..fuck me, thats incredible.
    Good they’ve closed City Hospital A&E to help pay for it.

  30. 60
    A Bloke of a Certain Age. says:

    You have two cows, but ones a pilgrim so that dont count.

  31. 62
    Raving Loon says:

    I pay taxes so a civil servant can have a better pension than I could ever hope for, and I’m supposed to sympathise with them?


    • 66
      The Paragnostic says:

      It’s a bit like having sympathy for a teenager that still believes in Father Xmas, isn’t it?

      As explained to me by a union-supporting friend, the issue is that these poor souls have gone through their “working” lives under the impression that they would retire at 60 and bathe in unicorn piss for the rest of their days. When it turns out that the rest of us can’t afford the unicorn piss, they get all uppity. And when I pointed this out, the response was “but it’s in their contracts”.

      • 81
        Strikes? Get used to 'em! says:

        Private sector workers would have equivalent schemes to defend if their employers hadn’t been allowed to gobble up their contributions in the good times in the guise of ‘pension holidays’.

        You can’t blame public sector workers for defending their conditions just because private sector employers have their workforce over a barrel with the casualisation of British labour.

        • 85
          lola says:

          I was going to give a reasoned and detailed rebuttal of that. But as I have to earn a living to pay for all of you and your entitlements I shall restrict myself to saying that what you say is utter bollocks and that you can fuck off.

  32. 65
    old grumpy says:

    When working in areas of DTI interest, I was apprised of the then standard Civil Service overheads calculator. Applying that to your estimate of £113m, the net cost to the taxpayer comes in at around £550m.

  33. 68
    Observer says:

    As Guido says, the taxpayer is whacked twice because we pay for the Pilgrim and for the person employed to do the work that the trade union agitator should do. There is a further cost since this increases the size of the workforce and so necessitates, or is taken as justifying, more spending on managers to manage the enlarged workforce.

  34. 69
    stun says:

    On QT last night, Huhne was insisting that lower-paid PS workers would actually benefit from the changes. The rent-a-bint from Labour said ‘What about the part-time workers?’. Since when did working part-time entitle you to a full list of extras? Must be unheard of in the private sector, surely.

    • 72
      The Paragnostic says:

      Under Labour, all men are equal, but some women are more equal than men. I’d imagine that said Labour bint’s position begins and ends with the “overrepresentation” of women and effnicks among the part time employees, and views differential treatement as fundamentally anti-egalitarian.

  35. 73
    chancers says:

    Radio Ulster has a union wanker on now talking about his pension being all about human and civil rights….

    • 75
      Ancient History Teacher says:

      Caveman comes out of his cave and demands of his fellow cavemen a free antelope carcass for being a member of the Cavemen’s Union. Fellow cavemen stamp on Union Caveman. Problem goes away for 2 million years.

  36. 77
    Andy Coulson's monkey says:

    Guido makes a mess of all of this again. Unions have to have separate Politcal funds by law. They pay the Labour party form these funds. Cutting back on facility time would not affect party funding.

    Guido is a mendacious and shoddy in his articles as the pint media he despises.

    Anyway facility time isnt smiting in the public sector. Rolls Royce, BMW, Ford all give paid time off for their reps.

    • 79
      Sandy Toxics Turkey Baster says:

      Yes but the company pays, NOT the Taxpayer

    • 88
      Cynic says:

      I assume you posted this nonsense on a Government machine in Government time.

      • 96
        Anonymous says:

        Presumably a Goverment machine that can’t spell properly?

        • 102
          God says:

          Definitely a Government machine then – bought especially so that ignorant public-sector union parasites can understand the spellings it churns out!

          • Slack Dromey says:

            I resemble that remark

          • Andy Coulson's Monkey says:

            No you fool. It was posted from my privately owned smart phone on a day off from work.

            As for spelling if you read the comments carefully you will deduce my errors were typos as oppose to spelling errors. But that would require a balanced objective view of things.

            Typos are careless, yes, but no real indication of educational or intellectual attainment. And I would pretty much guess mine is significantly higher than most who post on here.

            Returning back to the facts – facility time is normal. Tory council have it. The Tory government has it for its civil service reps. Get over it.

            As for Pilgrim, if what we read on this blog is true and accurate, and let’s be honest once could say this blog does depict a somewhat distorted and biased picture, but if it is true, then I doubt there is a trade unionist in the country who would support her.

            But, it is far better to take one item of bad practice and use it to build a nonsense argument!

  37. 80
    Jimmy says:

    Looks like the Taxdodgers’ Alliance have the curse of Guido too.

  38. 86
    Cynic says:

    In Northern Ireland we are awash in them. One Education Authority has 4 of them – 4 in just one authority. But then the Education Minister has announced that next week he will show solidarity and refuse to cross picket lines.

    This means he will still be paid but do no work.

    • 110
      money's no object says:

      just like the deputy First Minister was paid 6 weeks wages when he went and contested the Republic of Ireland’s Presidential election……

  39. 87
    ex-Tory says:

    Its a disgrace that teachers only have to give 24hrs notice of striking. Thousands of schools like my child’s cannot tell the parents if they are going to be closed because the selfish f**kers won’t say in advance if they are going to turn up. Next parents evening I’m going to let loose at these self-serving socialist p*ss-takers. Everyone should do the same, so they know what people realyy think of them, and not the BBC propoganda.

    • 101
      God says:

      Well said – I agree!!

    • 108
      Andy Coulson's Monkey says:

      This is nonsense. All unions have to give 7 days’ notice of taking strike action. It’s the law. Your doing the typical reactionary thing of getting all bothered about something that is not true in an attempt to justify your position

  40. 104
    God says:

    Has anyone noticed how many of these union “leaders” and “officials” come from either Liverpool or Scotland?

  41. 112
    50 Calibre says:

    If they are not doing their jobs, sack the fucking lot of them.

    No ifs, no buts, sack the fucking lot.

  42. 118
    Anonymous says:

    Wrong at every level. I pay for public service not for strikes or some fat cat to walk around an office doing nothing and claiming they have had a pay freeze. While the private sector have had their private pensions eroded to prop up the uncompetative and unproductive public sector. Something has to change.

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Guido-hot-button (1) Guido-hot-button (1)

Rod Liddle on the loony UN sexism special rapporteur:

“There is more sexism in Britain than in any other country in the world, according to a mad woman who has been sent here by the United Nations.

Rashida Manjoo is a part-time professor of law at Cape Town University in the totally non-sexist country of South Africa (otherwise known as Rape Capital Of The World).

Mrs Magoo has been wandering around with her notebook and is appalled by the sexist “boys’ club” culture here, apparently.

I don’t doubt we still have sexism in the UK. But is it worse than in, say, Saudi Arabia, d’you think, honey-lamb? Or about 175 other countries? Get a grip, you doolally old bat.”

orkneylad says:

What’s he been doing FFS, mining bitcoins?

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