Labour's £51,000 Pilgrim

Yesterday’s News of the World hailed, with paywall smashing fanfare, a huge clamp down on taxpayer funding of trade union officials. Music to Guido’s ears after his long campaign against such pilgrims.

Mad Frankie Maude is on the rampage with his axe:

“Maude is ready to tear up workers’ rights laws that force struggling families to pay the wages of full-time union officials in public services. A senior Whitehall source said: “We’re looking closely at the huge levels of support unions receive. This is high on our agenda.”

The momentum is building. There is no justification for the taxpayer paying a lobbying organisation to fight for an unsustainable mess in the interests of a vocal minority group. We don’t pay the arms dealers and the tobacco lobbyists’ staffing bills…

Take this classic example flagged up by the Black Country’s Express and Star:

“Judy Foster is employed as an administration officer by the fire service. But for the past seven years the Labour councillor has been devoting all her working time to Unison, representing 280 fire workers. The fire service has now insisted that Councillor Foster spends half her working time on fire service duties and half with the union. But Unison has appealed against the offer and says her union work should be full time and funded entirely by the taxpayer.”

Why? On what grounds?

“Councillor Foster, who was elected in 1998, already picks up £9,300 in allowances from Dudley Council along with £14,475 as vice chairman of the West Midlands Police Authority. With her £28,000 job, it brings her combined taxpayer-funded salary and allowances to more than £51,000.”

Guido reckons he’s found an “efficiency saving” right there.

Pickles Bans Serwotka From DCLG

Guido couldn’t quite believe it when he saw one of the Sundays had been briefed that the government is preparing a ban on the practice of paying union officials out of the taxpayer purse. However when he saw that Mad Frankie Maude had floated the idea in all of the broadsheets, he was more than a little chuffed. Guido has been campaigning on this issue for months, starting with the big-mouth of the delectable Nurse Pilgrim in Tooting, and taking the campaign all the way to the Prime Minister. It looks like it’s getting some real traction. The public don’t like it, and it seems someone is listening.

As the first wave of strikes look set to begin on Thursday, Guido hears that PCS boss Mark Serwotka (£86,244 + £25,441 pension + 1,076 housing allowance pa,) wanted to rally his troops in the Department of Communities and Local Government. Whitehall sources say his request to come in and encourage members to walk out on Thursday was flatly rejected by Pickles. Apparently the slap hasn’t gone down well…

YouGov: 51% Want Ban On Taxpayer Funded Union Staff

A Taxpayers’ Alliance and YouGov poll shows more than half the country would like to see an end to the controversial practice of public sector union officials being paid while they do union activity instead of working. As the unions don’t have to pay their staff and national organisers, they can spend the money raised through subs on political activity, like funding the Labour Party.

The TPA reckon that at least £67 million is being diverted from frontline services into the pockets of union officials. As Guido has been showing you over the last few months, these officials are up to no good. If the unions want staff they should pay for them out of union subs. Guido isn’t surprised the public are rejecting this absurd loophole.

UPDATE: Given this insight into the public mood, perhaps the Tories own taxpayer funded operation, the Parliamentary Resources Unit, might like to retract their amber warning to MPs over David Morris’ EDM calling for a ban:

Manchester's Half a Million Pilgrim Fund

52% of children in Manchester live in poverty, making it the third poorest place to live in Britain. Manchester City Council are cutting front-line services in an act of political defiance – rather than saving money on the bureaucracy. They are cutting 2,000 jobs in order to support their quarter of a million pound CEO and other fat cats. However FoI’s have  revealed a huge rump that could be cut in order to protect frontline services – starting with  the half a million spent every year paying staff not to work, but instead to do union activities. 

Last year £449,088.00 was spent on union pilgrims, taxpayer money being used to represent the interests of people who would rather see Britain go the way of Greece than push their pen for an extra year. Funny you don’t read about that on the Unison placards…

Judge Brands "Pilgrim" a Liar

Jane Brooke had worked for the Land Registry for over three decades before she was sacked for gross-misconduct. Back in 2008, while she was spending 85% of her time as a union pilgrim – being paid to do union work by the taxpayer, Jane began legal proceeding against the Weymouth Land Registry claiming she had repetitive strain injury and could not use a computer. Little did she know that they began to secretly record her to see if she was telling the truth. She was caught working out, swimming and running. When she was sacked she claimed “union victimisation” and took it to a tribunal…

However the judiciary has seen sense for once and branded this pilgrim “inconstant and dishonest” and upheld the fact that “serious misconduct [justified] summary dismissal.” Judge Coles said it “was not cricket”. Brooke says she will continue to work for the PCS. Not on our shilling anymore though…

The War Begins

After the government threw down the gauntlet to the unions yesterday, regarding their taxpayer funded staff, the bruvvers have kicked off in an appropriately pig-headed style. The GMB’s eloquent and inspiring Brian Strutton frothed last night:

“All trade union representatives have a statutory right to time off for trade union duties, which includes providing representation in grievances and disciplinary matters where individuals have a legal right to representation.”

Granted, but the taxpayer shouldn’t be shortchanged by such activity. The unions should pick up the cost of time lost and under no circumstances should it be full-time. 

“Bob Neill is either ignorant of the realities of trade union work or he is deliberately pedalling an anti-union line which is totally unjustified. I would suspect that Mr Neill’s action amounts to unlawful victimisation of trade union representatives and I’ll be taking legal advice on this.”

Go ahead and waste your money, the legal advice will point out that what Neill said was protected by parliamentary privilege, and believe it not, most people would rather see their hard-earned money being spent on front-line services instead of lining the union pockets. It’s war…

Pickles v The PilgrimsGovernment Calls For Review in Taxpayer Funding of Unions

Bad news for the unions. It seems that Guido’s campaign against taxpayer-funded Pilgrims is getting some traction.  In a reply to a written question from Dominic Raab, the Department for Local Government have called on local councils to review the practice of allowing public sector workers to work full-time on union activity, while we pick up the tab. DCLG Minister Bob Neil said:

“I am aware of the public and parliamentary concern expressed in recent weeks over trade union officials paid for from the public purse. The coalition Government’s transparency agenda will help ensure that cash payments to trade unions and the titles of staff posts in local government are open to public scrutiny. At a time when all local authorities need to make sensible savings to help pay off the budget deficit, councillors will rightly wish to review the merits of (full-time) union officials funded by the taxpayer and the provision of the office facilities to trade unions.”

Every year  millions of pounds of taxpayers money goes into the union coffers instead of paying for frontline services. The unions can then spend their subs on political activity, like donating to the Labour Party, instead of staffing. It’s time this whole crooked money washing scheme is fully debated in Parliament…

The War On "Pilgrims" Goes International

As the rolling news channels give the coalition the PR gift of hard-line union members booing what most people will see as perfectly sensible suggestions from Vince Cable, the union war has opened up on another front. Regular readers will be aware of Guido’s campaign against union officials that are paid for by the taxpayer, or “Pilgrims” as they are affectionately known. Having been raised in Parliament a number of times, not least at PMQs, it seems the campaign has spread to the other side of the pond.

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Phil Gingrey will attempt to push a bill through Congress to sharply limit the activity which blights US politics too. The Republican from Georgia sums up the issue nicely:

“Official time is not fair to the government or the taxpayer and works solely to the benefit of labor unions and employees who serve as its representative or steward. With an extraordinary amount of federal employees authorized to use 100% official time on behalf of their union, the federal government loses the immensely valuable civil service for which he or she was originally hired to perform. Additionally, taxpayers pay for absolutely no official productivity on their own behalf while federal employees use official time.”

Quite, though Guido isn’t sure the “Pilgrim” name will catch on over there.

Saturday Seven Up

7upLast week was a monster of a week with super-injunctions, and the breaking of them, driving readers here to find out more as the papers held back for fear of Schillings. Twitter triumphed beating Schillings and the judges with a little help from transparency campaigner John Hemming MP.



Hank the Teaching "Pilgrim"

This is Hank Roberts. He’s a geography teacher at Copland School in Brent. Well sort of, that was before he became a “pilgrim”. A full-time union official, paid for by the taxpayer to do full-time union duties, rather than the front-line role he should be doing.[…]


Saturday Seven Up

7upThe blog has been busy at the forefront of breaking news this week, leading on two front-page issues: Huhne and super-injunctions. On Monday we were the first to exclusively reveal where Vicky Pryce was on that fateful night in March 2003, pipping Michael Crick to be first to pixel.[…]


Pilgrims Picked On At PMQs

Regarding full-time union officials, or Pilgrims as they have come to be known, Guido wrote last week:

“There are 2,493 Pilgrims across the public sector, union officials, paid not to provide the service they represent, but instead do political activities that should be funded by the unions.



Saturday Seven Up

7upGuido has spent the week “Huhnting”. Last Sunday’s papers revealed that the wily Secretary of State for Energy, Chris Huhne, had forced “someone close to him” to accept penalty points to avoid losing his driving licence. A criminal offence and a resigning issue.[…]


Pilgrim's Progress to Parliament

Regular readers will remember the fun that Guido had with Nurse Pilgrim, the Unison rep posing as a nurse to smear Lansley, who was making money on the side with her sly consultancy firm and lives in a hippy commune.[…]


Council Pilgrims

Tory MP Alok Sharma has been digging into the union officials that are paid full time by the state. Basically local government versions of Nurse Pilgrim, whom Guido exposed last week.

Sharma asked the number of council-paid employees working full-time on trade union business, as well as the aggregate bill and the estimated cost of any other resources used by these officials

319 of 429 councils responded to the FOI request. […]


A Pilgrimage to Westminster

Following exposés by both Guido and the Mail on Sunday into the activities of Jane Pilgrim, pressure is now mounting to make the practise of employing trades union officials full time on the taxpayer illegal. David Morris MP just raised this at today’s Health Questions:

“There have been press reports recently that money earmarked for frontline NHS services is being used by hospitals to pay salaries to Trade Union officials.



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531

Quote of the Day

Philip Hammond at Treasury questions:

“I’m sorry to be boring.”

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.


Open Britain’s Offshore Hypocrisy Open Britain’s Offshore Hypocrisy
Single Market Round-up Single Market Round-up
Labour Hit With Maximum Expenses Fine Labour Hit With Maximum Expenses Fine
UKIP Candidate’s Gay Donkey Horse Rape Banter UKIP Candidate’s Gay Donkey Horse Rape Banter
UKIP Leadership Latest UKIP Leadership Latest
New Tory Election Poster? New Tory Election Poster?
Diane Abbott Offered Interns £2 Below Living Wage Diane Abbott Offered Interns £2 Below Living Wage
Walkers Factory Was Raided For Illegal Immigrants Walkers Factory Was Raided For Illegal Immigrants
Is This Our New Parliament? Is This Our New Parliament?
Japan’s Single Market Trade Japan’s Single Market Trade
Prezza For Jezza Prezza For Jezza
Man On Sun’s Front Page Is Not Interpreter Man On Sun’s Front Page Is Not Interpreter
Was it Davis or Davies? Was it Davis or Davies?
Multi-Millionaire’s “Hipster Begging” Multi-Millionaire’s “Hipster Begging”
Six Figures For Baroness Scotland’s Friends Six Figures For Baroness Scotland’s Friends
Sadiq Tree Policy Chop Sadiq Tree Policy Chop
Marmite Round-Up Marmite Round-Up
Watch Theresa May Burn Emily Thornberry Watch Theresa May Burn Emily Thornberry
Cameron: Brexit Means Leaving Single Market Cameron: Brexit Means Leaving Single Market