Unison in Tower Hamlets were at the centre of the campaign to help Lutfur Rahman escape corruption charges.
When the investigators went into the council building, Unision picketed the event with a banner saying: “Eric Pickles – Hands off Tower Hamlets… No to racism and Islamophobia”.
Here’s the Tower Hamlets Unison Branch Secretary John McLoughlin ranting about the investigation into Rahman:
A Unison newsletter claimed “Tower Hamlets is no rotten borough” and “the imposition of commissioners, with powers to appoint the key statutory officers responsible for fundamental decisions on services is wholly disproportionate.”
It was written by full time trade union pilgrims, paid by the council to agitate for Unison…
Brilliant. The TUC have welcomed the Tory manifesto policy of forcing the public sector and businesses to give staff three days off to volunteer:
“Trade unions are the UK’s biggest voluntary groups. This new right will give every union member a guaranteed three days for time off to get involved with union activities.”
Having spent three years trying to stop the unions agitating on the taxpayer, the government will give them three days off to organise.
Unless of course political activity is excluded from the policy?
A question to which nobody has managed to give Guido a straight answer, yet…
A Conservative Party spokesman is adamant: ‘It definitely won’t include trade unions’.
Sources claims they can exclude union activity (which is not charitable) at a legislation writing level.
We shall see…
TUC hit back again. Frances O’Grady says:
“Confusion is growing by the minute about the Conservatives’ time off for volunteering pledge. First Eric Pickles can’t make up his mind whether it is a right at all, and now the Conservatives say that there will be an approved state list of volunteering opportunities which will not include trade union activity. One wonders whether they will go on to ban help at food banks, giving advice to workers on zero-hours contracts or community wind power projects.”
Frankie Maude won the Guido award for most successful implementation of an Order-Order blog post into government policy on Tuesday, but unfortunately his Pilgrims reforms are not being embraced further afield. New figures show that in the last three years the Labour-run Welsh government has spent at over £1.5 million on NHS staff undertaking trade union activities. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board alone spent over £500,000, this year blowing £184,231 on 2 full-time taxpayer funded trade union staff and 21-part time staff . Last year it had 37 trade union staff funded by the taxpayer, the year before it had 42. Elsewhere, the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board spent £210,000 a year for eight full time equivalent taxpayer funded trade union posts. Welsh Labour won’t win a Guido like that…
The early stats on Frankie Maude’s reforms of trade union facility time don’t make great reading, but Guido is pleased to report the Cabinet Office is getting its act together. New figures for the third quarter of 2013 reveal the total number of Pilgrims has dropped by 1,000, saving £17 million last year. Cash wasted on Pilgrims as a proportion of the whole paybill is less than a third of what it was in 2011, with another £21 million worth set to be cut next year. Viva la revolucion…
UPDATE: Maude is kicking back on the earlier figures:
“In December, it was reported that costs of trade union representation in the Civil Service had risen under this Government. That is entirely untrue and the figures were flawed.The report was based on claimed costs for 2010-2011 of half what our rigorous mapping exercise found. The report’s 2010-2011 figures entirely excluded costs from HM Revenue & Customs, one of the biggest departments; underreported Ministry of Justice costs significantly; and assumed that the cost of full-time representatives for the Department for Work & Pensions accounted for all the costs (i.e. not counting the cost of over 1,300 part-time representatives). The 2010-2011 data was compiled from Parliamentary Questions and FOI requests, based on different methodologies. In addition some departments gave their figures from before proper monitoring was introduced, thus underreporting their actual numbers. The same report used data less up-to-date than the numbers which will be published tomorrow, thus over-reporting the ‘current’ costs.”
Well Guido is sure that has made everything clearer.
The Department for Education have cracked down on taxpayer funded pilgrims. Launching new guidance for schools, David Laws has declared that “no teacher funded by the taxpayer should work full time on union work” and “the Department for Education expects all trade union representatives to spend the majority of their working hours carrying out their school-based jobs”. “We believe that it should be possible for local union representatives to fulfil their main union duties in one day a week or less”. Gold star.
Guido was cautious when Francis Maude announced his reforms of trade union facility time, emphasising that they “need to be enforced across the public sector” if the cost to the taxpayer is to come down. New figures reveal the amount spent on Pilgrims – taxpayer funded trade union officials – has in fact increased from £18.3million in 2010/11 to £23.6million in 2012/13. That’s a rise of 29 per cent.
The Pilgrim reforms required government departments to guarantee just 0.1 per cent of wages would be spent on union time. 15 government departments have failed to meet the cap. Despite the crackdown, taxpayer-funded public officials are still spending their time on partisan trade union activity, wasting tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money each year. And the cost is going up, not down. A good New Year’s resolution for the Cabinet Office would be to actually enforce the pledges that it made…
If you have pitchforks and flaming torches, they’ll come in handy. It’s not obvious where Plebgate is going to lead. If this is the level of integrity in the police, there’ll be a Royal Commission at the end of it.
Keith Vaz’s committee has quite excelled itself in arraigning the officers at the sharp end of the Plebgate scandal.
They haven’t been condemned but in the unusual words of the Chair “we have found your evidence unsatisfactory”. In English – “We think you’re lying through your teeth which is why you cover your mouth with your hands, why your mouths are dry, why you mumble furtively, why you want to talk about hindsight and your state of mind at the time, and you keep saying, “Can you repeat the question?”
Taxpayer funded union turkeys are convening to work how to avoid Christmas. Regular readers will remember Carl Roper, the TUC national organiser tasked with spinning for Pilgrims – taxpayer-funded trade union officials. Last summer Carl got into all sorts of bother trying to spin his way out of the huge sums Pilgrims cost the taxpayer. Well now he has invited publicly-employed trade unionists to a meeting on Thursday to plot how they can “respond to the attack on facility time and… look at the legal position of reps in respect of paid time off for union duties and activities”. In other words try to fight the government’s crackdown on them wasting taxpayers’ time and money. Let Guido know how that works out for you…
Militant PCS union getting off from their court battle with Eric Pickles hit DCLG in the pocket to the tune of £90,000. Good news then that the department’s union reforms are saving that figure several times over. New stats show cutting back on trade union facility time will save £400,000-a-year of taxpayers’ money. They have already cut back on the bonkers £245,644-a-year the department was spending under the Prime Mentalist in 2008/9, though £40,000-a-year is still far too high. An encouraging start but still a long way to go…
UPDATE:DCLG get in touch to stress that PCS now owe them money rather than the other way round.
With a straight face, Serwotka is spinning this as Pickles wasting taxpayers’ money. Despite the fact that the check-off reform aims to save taxpayers’ money. And the fact that it was PCS who served the DCLG. So Serwotka is blowing taxpayer cash twice over, then blaming Pickles for… blowing taxpayer cash. He was hardly going to back down was he…
Another day and another report suggesting that staffing shortages are killing people in NHS hospitals. Today it’s the Health Select Committee, where last week it was Sir Bruce Keogh who said:
“Statistical analysis performed showed a high correlation between in-patient to staff ratio and a high hospital standardised mortality rates score. When the review teams visited the hospitals, they found frequent examples of inadequate numbers of nursing staff in some ward areas.”
Guido has been crunching the numbers at the 14 hospitals that were investigated by Keogh and he’s found an obvious staffing loophole that would free up more front-line workers: scrapping the Pilgrims. Many of the hospitals or trusts are too incompetent to store data on the amount of time they pay their staff not to do their jobs, but instead act as full-time trade union officials through the controversial and absurd “Facilities Time” system. Nurses, like Jane Pilgrim, are paid not to help heal the sick and needy but spend their time politically agitating instead. All of Guido’s previous work on Pilgrims, and the case against them, can be read here.
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has three full time Pilgrims, costing £61,000 per year. Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has 2.45 “full time equivalents” at the cost of £100,000, while Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals have one and half as do the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust. Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust are spending £14,000, while Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, £17,000. Guido presumes that hospitals that do not hold the data have a similar level of trade union activity blocking front-line care. There are not enough nurses, so why is the NHS subsidising Unison members to take part in political activity rather than doing their jobs? The trade union is complicit in this crisis.
This is the latest PCS poster lamenting the fact full time “pilgrim” civil servants are being made to return to work:
“All reps including the 2 existing full time TUS officers will spend the majority of their time in line jobs with immediate effect… Banned from using DCLG facilities (emails, desks, the building etc) to issue information to members on national issues inlcuding key material on pensions and the Civil Service Management Code.”
You can read all Guido’s stories on Pilgrims here.
“For too long in the public sector, trade unions have received taxpayer funding that is poor value for money and inadequately controlled. Reducing such public subsidies to trade unions is a practical way that councils can save money, to keep council tax down and protect frontline services for local residents – including union members themselves.
Trade union activities and campaigning in local councils should be funded by members’ subscriptions, not bankrolled by the taxpayer. Freedom from state dependency will also mean that trade union bosses will better reflect and respond to the wishes and views of the grassroots members who pay the bill.”
Guido will soon be able to report how the first stages Frankie Maude’s reforms have impacted on taxpayer-funded trade unionists. Watch this space…
All out over at Education. Well 37.5% out, as some members of the civil service PCS union vote to strike over job cuts in the department. According to PA, PCS boss Mark Serwotka is claiming that the department is being used “as an ideological testbed for wider civil service cuts”. It’s interesting that the main PCS representative in the department is one Ruth Serwotka. It may be no relation, but a Mrs Ruth Serwotka, who is apparently a civil servant, has popped up before.
Is this a case of union royalty using their power couple connection as an ideological test-bed for wider civil service strikes?
Brace yourself for the most terrifying statistic you will read this Halloween: trade unions are being subsidised by the taxpayer to the tune of £113 million-a-year. New research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance shows that in 2011-12 £92 million of our money was spent on funding trade union Pilgrims alone.
Not only that, but the report claims that public bodies have even been deducting union subscription fees in the payroll process without charging the unions for the work that requires, in spite of unions themselves claiming the opposite.
Where is Van Helsing, to plunge a stake straight through the hearts of these taxpayer-funded bloodsuckers once and for all…
A significant Pilgrims development from yesterday. Liam Fox suggested that unions are basing their calculations for facility time allocations – how many hours taxpayer funded trade unionists are allowed to spent on union acitivity – on a 40% exaggeration of the real figure:
“The picture may actually be worse than appears at face value since the Facility Time allocations – the delightfully obtuse name for official trade union activities — is based on full departmental headcounts not the union membership within a department. For example,the PCS website claims that there are “more than 55,000 members” within Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HM RC). Yet, elsewhere on their website they explain that the HM RC Facility Time allocation for the current year is being based on the departmental headcount of 75,456. In other words, they base their calculations for their union time – and ultimately public remuneration – on a 40% exaggeration of the actual number of members they actually serve.”
Potentially meaning that the unions are raking in huge amounts of taxpayer cash against the rules. This one has legs…
Eric Pickles has just announced that Frankie Maude’s reforms to Whitehall Pilgrims are to be recommended across all local government. Speaking as the first ever Cabinet minister to address the fringe Freedom Zone, Pickles highlighted a poster found in his department as an example of just why taxpayers’ money shouldn’t be going to unions:
“I don’t mind the idea, I like the tumble of politics.