It’s down to Pickles and Maude to announce the end of trade union funded public sector officials – or as Guido christened them – Pilgrims. As revealed yesterday, after months of campaigning on the issue, Pickles will this afternoon say:
But in the game of Town Hall Top Trumps, there’s a non-job which beats even the Civic Sex Snooper.
Taxpayer-funded, full-time, trade union officials.
They cost the public sector – that’s taxpayers to me and you – £250 million a year. This is money taken away from frontline services. Guess what… You won’t find Labour criticising them. Silence from Ed Miliband. His Labour councillors voted to close libraries, but keep bankrolling union officials on the rates. And surprise, surprise. Not even a dicky bird from Labour’s local government spokesperson, Jack Dromey, No wonder. Because he knows the unions are still bankrolling Labour. In my book, that’s not All Right Jack. If unions want to raise money for Labour – do it in your own time, not on the rates. We’re going to call time on this last closed shop.
Having so often set the news agenda, Guido could get used to setting the policy agenda too…
According to an internal CCHQ briefing, produced ahead of Frankie Maude’s speech, the government will announce a “consultation” aimed at bringing an end to full-time taxpayer-funded public-sector union officials. This is a culmination of a campaign started on this blog in April, which was taken up by backbench MP Aidan Burley with David Cameron at PMQs in May. It was then the subject of an EDM proposed by David Morris MP and highlighted at the Rally Against the Debt where speakers (pictured) spoke out against “Pilgrims”. June saw public opinion swing behind the issue in the polls after the Taxpayers’ Alliance identified £67 million pounds wasted subsidising union activists. Eric Pickles and Frankie Maude soon got behind the issue. Last month saw the first breakthrough when the original “Pilgrim”, the full-time on-the-taxpayer Unison agitator Jane Pilgrim, was returned to front line nursing duties. She is the first of many union activists who will be put back to front line work.
Leaked CCHQ internal briefing:
The initial £30 million saving is more significant than it sounds, it strikes at the heart of the infrastructure of funding for union militancy, directly defunding the left and undermining their ability to muster state-subsidised agitators. The CCHQ briefing document ahead of the announcement refers to a term coined by this blog – “Pilgrims” - as well as crediting the research work of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. We’re celebrating this breakthrough as a huge policy victory, there is nothing we like more than bashing union militants…
UPDATE: Full story background to the anti-Pilgrims campaign here.
St George’s Hospital in Tooting is under new management and it seems that they have begun to clear out the rot. Jane Pilgrim, the “nurse” who was paid a full-time salary not to nurse, but to work full-time campaigning against the government, has been taken off her full-time duties for Unison and returned to the job we pay her to do – looking after patients:
From: Jane Pilgrim
Sent: 15 September 2011 ██:██
Subject: Out of Office AutoReply: on-call
I will not see Emails today until 4PM AS I am clinical.
Have a Good Day
Fittingly this small but not insignificant victory comes during the week of TUC conference. Guido hears our old friend Jane was none to happy about the move. Jane can go back to work safe in the knowledge her precedent has possibly ruined her movement’s subsidised fun and games at taxpayers’ expense. Her case has directly lead to the issue of taxpayer funded union officials, or “Pilgrims” as they have come to be known, shooting up the agenda. Guido hears from the more switched on ministers that the days of unproductive Pilgrims are numbered. The government is reviewing the £86 million loophole that pays for the union’s organisational infrastructure, allowing them to save the money raised by member subscriptions for more important things. Like keeping the Labour Party solvent…
You can read the whole saga here. We’re celebrating that this blog has helped to increase public sector productivity…
Remember our old friend Jane Pilgrim? The union staffer at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, who is paid a full time nurses salary not to nurse? She instead spends her days smearing Lansley. Well Guido hears that she was allowed to carry on as if nothing had happened, despite being busted running a private consultancy firm on the side, that used pictures of the hospital’s management, without their consent, as endorsements. Instead of being sacked, she was promoted by hospital managers to “management lead for trade unions.” Whatever that means.
While Pilgrim’s actions triggered outrage, with the issue of taxpayer funded union officials reaching Prime Minister Questions, and the government signalling a review into the practice, the original sinner and inspiration for the whole campaign has thus far got off very lightly. However Guido hears the net might be closing in on our old friend.
Geoff Thorne was a hospital porter and Secretary of the St George’s Hospital Unison branch. Like Jane Pilgrim he’s militant and ganged up with her to threaten a nurses strike at St George’s – as if it wasn’t enough that she wasn’t doing any actual nursing. Geoff had a cameo role in the Pilgrim saga when the Mail on Sunday outed him as Pilgrim’s lover and it emerged that he colluded in the lies spread about “meeting” Andrew Lansley, despite the fact that he boycotted the event with Pilgrim.
Well this morning Geoff Thorne was fired. Guido understands that this was for the leaking of confidential information, but is awaiting the official line. Geoff is not the only recent exit from St George’s Hospital in recent weeks. Within a few weeks of Guido breaking the Pilgrim mess back in May, the management at St George’s were cleared out. Normally, these sort of changes would happen as part of a bigger series of moves and restructuring. Not in this case – hospital sources are adamant that St George’s alone was singled out for the cleansing.The Chief Executive “resigned” and cleared his desk within 24 hours – without a replacement, two years early. Within days the Trust Chairman announced the end of her term. Even though she was eligible for another two years. She used to have Labour Party posters up in her office…
New management has been brought in, and are apparently on a bit of a rampage. Jane isn’t off the hook yet…
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…
“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.
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…
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:
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…
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…
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