Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pilgrim’s Progress II

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…

Monday, July 4, 2011

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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

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…

Friday, June 24, 2011

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:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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…

Monday, June 13, 2011

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…

Thursday, June 9, 2011

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…

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pickles v The Pilgrims
Government 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…

Monday, June 6, 2011

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, May 28, 2011

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. In a chilling legal environment we kept readers up to date with the battle and made the case against Schillings forcefully.

This blog has also been at the forefront of the Huhne hunt, pushing it along and tracking every development in a story which is now entering its fourth week. You have to admire Huhne’s limpet-like quality in the face of adversity. He spins even faster than he drives, yesterday The Telegraph fell for his line (Guido was sceptical from the outset) and it took until yesterday evening before Vicky Pryce got her rebuttal out via Michael Crick. We’re eagerly awaiting what could be the fourth Sunday of newspaper coverage tomorrow…

All this newsflow made last week the busiest week of the year so far, Monday alone saw 104,923 page views from readers keen on discovering more about super-injunctions and the latest developments in the Huhne saga. The week saw 119,737 visitors making 348,984 visits to view 582,110 pages. Thanks to you we’re Britain’s favourite blog, the one you love and they hate. The top stories last week in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…


Seen Elsewhere

Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie
Whitehall Doesn’t Work | Dom Cummings
Russell Brand’s Tax Avoidance Firm | Sun
1 in 7 Young Britons Back ISIS | Times
Apple’s Tim Cook: iGay | Techno Guido
Insurgent Parties Plunge Labour Into Crisis | Alex Wickham
Mind-Bending Politics of Drugs | Mark Wallace
PC Worries Prevent Police Protecting Young Girls | Jill Kirby
Miliband Should Win Rochester | Martin Kettle
Thatcher Minister Sir John Nott ‘Voted for UKIP’ | Times
Time to Listen to Drugs Experts | Guardian


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