Lambeth Labour Put Pilgrim Wrecking Amendment Down

Pilgrims are on the agenda in the People’s Republic of Lambeth tonight. The Red Council has been dodging Pilgrim FoIs for six months, but was finally forced to reveal that their annual bung to the unions costs Lambeth taxpayers over half a million quid a year – ten times that in neighbouring Wandsworth. Guess who doesn’t run that council.

The Tories have put down a  motion against the £317,517 a year that is spent on 9.7 full time equivalent Pilgrims representing the triumvirate of Unison, GMB, and Unite. Another  £141,411 is spent to support 2.6 full time equivalent Pilgrims  from the “teaching” unions – principally the NUT and NASUWT. Lambeth Labour have gone into full bulldozer mode. Have a look at the wrecking amendment to Motion 7 here.  They amend:

“Council is grateful that these costs have now been disclosed. However,members are appalled that in a time of budget reductions and austerity in the public sector Lambeth Council is paying £503,548 a year to subsidise trade union officials.”

To:

“Council is grateful that these costs have now been disclosed. However, members recognise that in a time of budget reductions and austerity in the public sector paying trade union officials is a cost effective way to deal with industrial relations in the workplace. Massive cuts, too far too fast, forced on Lambeth by the government have resulted in unprecedented staff changes and restructurings where unions play an important role in scrutinising job plans, making amendments and supporting individual members through life changing decisions. They also perform excellent work on health and safety and basic skills training at minimal cost to council.”

Brazen.

Pickles’ Pilgrim Party

Guido is off for beer and sandwiches with Eric Pickles to mark the launch of the growing  Trade Union Reform Campaign. The new group must be doing something right given that they have sent both the Morning Star and the TUC round the bend today.

In a pre-emptive move the TUC rushed yet another one of their poorly researched spin memos declaring all of the great things that taxpayer-funded trade  union officials apparently do. It will come as no surprise that the Taxpayers’ Alliance were able to shred it within hours.

Next time the TUC want to be taken seriously, they shouldn’t get the pseudo-academic/Morning Star writer Gregor Gall to do their research. He relied on a discredited BIS review that was conducted under the union-funded Labour government. No wonder it was pro-brother…

After campaigning for nearly a year now on the issue of Pilgrims, Guido likes what has been trailed so far from Pickles’ planned speech:

“The public want their council tax frozen and their bins emptied every week. They don’t want it spent on trade unions’ political campaigning. It’s not right that the public’s money is covertly being used to bankroll union activists. They are diverting resources away from frontline services, waging class war with public funds. At a time when every council needs to help pay off Labour’s deficit, it’s time to cut these pilgrims and axe these non-jobs on the rates. Unions should not be given free office facilities and the free service of union dues being collected by government employers.”

TURC has attracted the support of both Liam Fox and Aidan Burley, amongst others. Anyone know what the dress code is?

The Million Pound Pilgrim Full Figures Reveal the True Cost Of Julie Davies

Guido has got hold of the original FoI response regarding Julie Davies, the teaching Pilgrim from earlier. As you can see the information provided was only in regard to 2002 and 2009. In this seven year period, Davies cost the taxpayer £679,198. This isn’t just her salary (£35,000pa), but the cost of paying someone else to cover for her too:

Given that Davies was also paid to do trade union activity for three days a week between 1997 and 2000, and five days a week between 2000 and 2002, the £300,000 figure quoted in the Standard tonight is way short of the real picture. Guido has been doing the real maths based on what she cost the taxpayer between 2002-09:

 Sept ’97 to April ’00: 3/5 x (£679,198/7) x 2.5 years = £145,542

April ’00 to March ’02: (£679,198/7) x 2 years = £194,057

Add that to the figures given by the council and you get a cost of £1,018,797 up until March 2009. Add to that the £70,000 that Davies has been paid for 2010 and 2011, plus the cost of covering for her in that period and that figure hits £1,158,797. Over half-a-million pounds wasted on one teacher not teaching…

Meet Julie Davies the £300,000 Teaching Pilgrim

Pilgrim fans will love Julie Davies, a teacher in Haringey who hasn’t stood in front of a blackboard since the turn of the century. Despite being paid £35,000pa to teach English at Northumberland Park Community School in Haringey, Davies has been working for the NUT five days a week since 2000. Instead of teaching she seems to spend most of her time agitating against the government and leaving comments on Lynne Featherstone’s blog. Guido particularly enjoyed the quote Davies gave the Standard:

“I’m an ordinary teacher. Most of my time’s spent sitting next to teachers who are being sacked or disciplined.” She denied being a “pilgrim” – a union official paid from the public purse. “I work really hard. I’m paid £35,000 a year by Haringey, and help when someone’s in trouble. I don’t work for the union. My substantive position is English teacher. If I stopped doing this [union] job I could return tomorrow.”

That’s the plan Julie, that’s the plan…

UPDATE: An eagle-eyed co-conspiritor points out that Davies is not registered as an “ordinary teacher” on her school’s website. Not only is she being paid £35,000pa, but the same amount of money will have to be spent on another teacher to cover for her. The NUT should pay for this organiser. 

Labour TURCeys

Early Day Motion 2609 is proof, if ever needed, that Labour MPs will do anything in blind support of the trade unions. In what looks like a sycophantic pat on the back for union activists, TURC member David Morris notes John Healey’s spin about all the wonderful work of Pilgrims, but  Tory adds the pertinent point that if so much is done for free, why should taxpayers pick up the tab for their other activities?

Falling into the trap Labour MPs Ronnie Campbell and Alan Meale made their mark, before withdrawing their names this morning after Labour tweeters pointed out their mistake. That didn’t stop doddery Jim Dobbin adding his name today though…

Lobby fodder. 

Exclusive: Liam Fox Returns for Senior Trade Union Role

Guido hears that the Trade Union Reform Campaign will announce this afternoon that Liam Fox has accepted a senior role in the group. Having virtually gone to ground since his resignation, he will be joining ten or so other MPs on their Parliamentary Council. Set up by Tories, TURC* is campaigning for more transparency in the union movement and an end to Pilgrims. Developing…

*For the record Neo-Guido advises the group on a pro-bono basis about social media.

UPDATE: The full Parliamentary Council is: Chairman Aidan Burley with Caroline Dinenage, Karen Bradley, Fiona Bruce, Nigel Adams, Liam Fox, Stuart Andrew, Alec Shelbrooke, David Morris, Dominic Raab.

Want to Sack Bad Teachers? Well Start With This One

While we are discussing the frankly long overdue proposal to sack rubbish teachers, why don’t we start with blog-favourite Hank Roberts. He’s a geography teacher at Copland School in Brent  Well sort of, that was before he became a “Pilgrim”. A union official, paid for by the taxpayer to do full-time union duties, rather than the front-line role he should be doing. There are hundreds of these teaching pilgrims.

At one point Hank was costing the school £53,000 per annum to have him on full-time release for his union activities, though since Guido exposed him last May, he has apparently gone back to work for at least two days a week. The school is still having to pay another teacher to cover for Hank when he is agitating – he’s “politically active” to say the least. He should be top of the sacking list.

Union Funded Turkeys Vote Against Christmas

As predicted, union backed Labour MPs mobilised to defeat Jesse Norman’s 10 Minute Rule Bill against Pilgrims. The usual nonsense was spouted in defence of taxpayer-funded trade union officials. John Healey surfaced after his Shadow Cabinet sacking to claim that Pilgrims were merely volunteering to help their unions. If they are volunteers, how come they are paid John?

The Ayes 132 /Noes 211 result is a clear message to the government to get a move on with the promised consultation on the issue. Given Cameron has backed the ban, you can add the payroll vote to that number next time. Guido will be having a look at the union donations of those who mobilised against, including those convention-busting Labour frontbenchers.

Any betting on a correlation?

Labour Abandoning Convention in Union Fight to Keep Pilgrims

In attempting to defend taxpayer-funded trade union activists, Unite the Union have accidentally poured petrol on the fire. Their press release today admits, by their own count, that “around 200,000 workers carry out representative duties.” Strangely the number of these Pilgrims is far higher in the public over the private sector.

Today’s 10 Minute Rule Bill that would ban the practice has been pushed back by Lansley’s boob announcement. Labour seem rather happy about this as it means Members would have wandered off by then, as opposed to a vote immediately after PMQs. Labour sources have confirmed that the Shadow Cabinet will not be voting, but whips are encouraging their frontbench team to weigh in to defeat the motion that would ban Pilgrims. The rules are going out of the window as the unions seek a return for their investments. As is convention, the Government whips are calling for all of the government payroll to abstain. Unlike with the opposition, that includes Ministers and PPSs. The vote is expected after 1pm now.

Union Funded Labour MPs Organising Against Pilgrim Vote

After his OpEd in the Telegraph this morning, Tory MP Jesse Norman will put down at 10 Minute Rule Bill against Pilgrims immediately after PMQs on Wednesday:

Ten minute Rule Motion: Jesse Norman: Trade Union Officials (Refund of Pay to Employers): That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide that pay for hours worked on behalf of trade unions by trade union officials during hours when they are paid by an employer should be refunded to the employer by the trade union; and for connected purposes.

Success with a 10 Minute Rule Bill is rare, but it should be a good reminder for the government about this issue in the run up to their promised consultation. Cameron has pledged to scrap taxpayer-funded trade union activity so it would be embarrassing for him if it were to fall. The union funded Labour MPs are having their thumbs screwed by the brothers to organise against the vote:

From: LLOYD, Tony
Sent: 05 January 2012 14:25
Subject: Ten Minute Rule Bill next Wednesday after PMQs

Dear Colleague,

You may be aware that the Conservative backbencher Jesse Norman MP is introducing a Ten Minute Rule Motion on Wednesday 11th January. It will be opposed by Labour MPs in the Chamber and it would be useful if you could be around to vote against. Its timing is subject to statements and PMQs but it will be the first piece of business after 12.30.

Regards,

Tony
Tony Lloyd MP
Manchester Central

What Tony doesn’t mention in his email is that he is the chairman of the Trade Union Group of Labour MPs.

The group greases the wheels for unions to manipulate legislation. They seem to be getting their money’s worth today…

2011: The Year of the ‘Pilgrim’

Continuing with the review of the year, one campaign that Guido has been proud to put on the agenda has been the fight against taxpayer-funded trade union activists. He coined their now commonly adopted nickname: “Pilgrims”. 

Eighteen months ago Guido was chewing the cud with a source who works in education in some Westminster watering-hole. Even after four Guinnesses, he still did not believe the story he was being told. Apparently there were teachers that were paid full-time salaries, yet worked full-time on trade union activity. Another teacher had to be employed to cover for this activist, this pushed a particular school over budget. Guido didn’t really think much more on the subject until a piece of research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance came across his desk a few months later. Their formidable FoI team had scatter-gunned almost every area of the state, trying to work out exactly how much of our money was was being wasted on unions bods who are paid for by us rather than out of the union members’ subscriptions. That leaves plenty of union money around to prop up Ed Miliband and bus people around the country for astro-turfed protests. It was on…

With the unions agitating it was only a matter of time before someone said something stupid. In April one such taxpayer-funded trade union official put her head above the parapet and claimed to the Standard that Andrew Lansley had lied about NHS cuts at a pre-election visit to St Georges Hospital in Tooting. Unfortunately for the now infamous Jane Pilgrim, Mark Clarke, the local Tory candidate who had organised said visit, had a slightly clearer recollection of events – mainly that Jane had refused to meet Lansley on political grounds. The first shots were fired and suddenly Jane Pilgrim, the union-funded smearing liar, began to unravel. She had a private consultancy firm on the side and lived at the expense of the taxpayer too. Eventually she was forced back kicking and screaming to frontline nursing, but the can of worms had been opened…

Guido has seen emails sent around senior brothers expressing concern that the activities of Unison’s poster-girl could be the thin-edge of the wedge and they even speculated that her big mouth might ruin the taxpayer funded fun and games for everyone.  How right they were. Suddenly, with personification and a focus point, the outrage about the concept of taxpayer-funded trade-union staff grew. Speeches began to be made in Parliament, motions were put down and people began to realise that there is a Nurse Pilgrim in every hospital, school, government department and pen-pushing office in the country.  The TPA numbers came alive and the bandwagon was rolling

As Guido began smoking out further pilgrims, David Cameron was put on the spot about at PMQs in May. June saw public opinion turn in the polls. The tabloids waded in and Eric Pickles and Frankie Maude soon got behind the issue. As conference season approached word reached Guido that a breakthrough was imminent. On the eve of Tory conference leaked CCHQ briefings saw MPs given anti-pilgrim lines and Pickles and Maude opened fire from the podium. In less than six months a full government consultation had been announced and the figures mooted as potential savings saw even more people get behind the campaign. Union funded Labour MPs went berserk

By the end of the year the term “Pilgrim” was being used by the BBC and every broadsheet. Guido hears that the Oxford English Dictionary might have a surprise for Jane in the New Year. If all goes to plan Guido will personally nail the page to the front door of Unison’s HQ. In April their Head of Press, Mary Maguire, tried to launch a formal investigation into Guido for having the audacity to question her when she said there was no story here. Now we know why…

Guido’s jihad does not stop here though. New TPA numbers reveal the number of Pilgrims went up in the last year, a fact that could be the straw to break the camel’s back. Legislation from the backbenches is in the pipeline, Mark Clarke went on to form the Trade Union Reform Campaign to fight for a total overhaul of union funding, and Guido will be keeping a close eye on Maude and Pickle’s promised consultation when it launches next month.

The threat of ending taxpayer-funding may well be a useful bargaining chip in strike negotiations, but at the end of the day the practice is morally wrong and Guido’s in this one for the long haul…

Rachel Reeves Deceives

Guido can’t think why the Tories decided to pull IDS from the Daily Politics today. He’s said to be fuming, particularly at Ken Clarke, and made said fury perfectly clear over the phone to him this morning. Owen Paterson has been stirring things up too. Either way it was the Pilgrims™ section of the show that Guido particularly enjoyed:

Leaving aside her terrible attempt at justifying the practice of full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials, Reeves had the cheek to try and claim that she was not funded by Unite the Union. She acknowledged that they gave her Leeds West Constituency money (£1,500 in May 2009 and another £1,500 in the April before the election), but she categorically denied she had received money directly from Unite:

“I don’t get any money from a trade union…”

In November 2007, two months after being selected as Labour’s candidate for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves declared a donation from Unite of £1,979.50 to the Electoral Commission. Donation Ref. No. C0002459 was paid directly to one Ms Rachel Reeves.

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…

Union Funded Labour MPs Blocking Debate on Union Funding

The parliamentary campaign against Pilgrims is hotting up. After the bombastic adjournment debate two weeks ago, yesterday plans for full three-hour debate on the issue was put to the Backbench Business Committee. The proposal from Jesse Norman was rejected, despite support from the LibDems and the DUP. Funnily enough no Labour MP would support the idea of debate, which is hardly surprising given how their last attempt to defend the practice of taxpayer funding of trade unions went…

Instead of shouting “prick” and “twat” from the sidelines, if Labour MPs really feel that we should pick up the tab for the unions, then at least have the balls to say it…

Labour MPs' Pilgrim Fightback Called Union-Busting Tory MP "Prick" and "Twat"

It’s taken Labour a week to come up with a semi-coherent defence of taxpayer funding for trade unions. John Healey has taken to LabourList, on behalf of their paymasters, to defend the practice. The gist of his argument is that union reps do good things therefore it is a good thing. It completely fails to take into account that regardless of what good they do, why should we pay for it rather than the unions: representation of the workers is the key reason people pay to join unions, and their union subscription fees should be used to cover it. Any work time spent on union activity should be invoiced back the union. Anything else is back door corruption and a multi-million pound political subsidy from the taxpayer to the Labour Party.

But at least some in Labour Party seem to be trying to engage properly, which is more than can be said of the union heavies on Labour benches. When Aidan Burley’s adjournment debate speech rattled them last Wednesday, instead of constructive arguement, the Tory backbencher was shouted down, heckled and jeered by amoungst others Tom Blenkinsop, Ian Lavery and Steve Rotheram. All MPs with strong union funding ties.

When the mace went up after the debate, the tension was not dispelled. Lavery, who is PPS to Harriet Harman, called Burley “a prick” – something he did not deny when Guido asked him about it, simply saying instead that “I’m not denying anything… I’ve got no comment to make.” Guido has four witnesses willing to go on the record saying that Steve Rotheram said “You just love winding people up, don’t you, you twat”. An allegation that Rotheram vehemently denies:

“…in fact I was the peacemaker on the night (Blessed are the Peacemakers eh!) I admit that when another Member made a disparaging comment about Mr Burley I did say sarcastically to him that there wasn’t a Court in the land that would find against the accusation . I also told him that he wasn’t going to wind me up when he was shouting towards me “what are you going to do about it” in an aggressive tone. … I have spoken with my legal representative and will defend myself against this accusation and will have more than 4 Members to support what I ‘actually’ said.”

Guido guesses he’ll have to see Steve in Court then…

Video: Aidan Burley's Pilgrim Bashing

It made the Labour benches incandescent:

Although the mics don’t pick up what they said, Guido has ears everywhere…

Pilgrims Harangued

Guido is waiting for the video, but last night’s adjournment debate was certainly one of the more lively ones in recent history. Instead of a backbencher and a Minister discussing seagulls, Aidan Burley’s rampage against the “Spanish practices of taxpayer-funded trade union officials pulled a solid crowd and sent Labour’s union heavies off the scale. Eric Pickles appeared on the frontbench which is a good sign that he will keep his promises…

Burley’s whole speech is here and well worth a read, especially given that the term Pilgrim has now been cemented in official record:

By way of an example, the excellent, independent and non-taxpayer funded campaigning website order-order, or the Guido Fawkes blog, has been highlighting the practice of paying union officials out of the taxpayer purse. Following its campaign, full-time taxpayer-funded trade union officials have become known as “Pilgrims” in the media, after Guido Fawkes exposed one such full-time union rep named Jane Pilgrim as a full-time trade union organiser working in the NHS for Unison. She came to public attention in 2011 after criticising the Government’s health policies. Despite being billed as a nurse, she was found to be a full-time trade union official, being paid £40,000 by the hospital. She is now under investigation by both St George’s hospital and Unison for running a private health consultancy—called The Pilgrim Way—on the side, creating a conflict of interests. As the website states: “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”.

Guido is tempted to bike a copy of Hansard down to St Georges Tooting…

Pilgrims to be Debated In Parliament Tomorrow

Straight after the 7pm vote in the House tomorrow, surviving Tory PPS Aidan Burley will redeem himself for his voting behaviour yesterday. He has tabled an Adjournment Debate on a favourite subject:  “Funding from the public purse of trade union officials”.

Burley will get around fifteen minutes to speak and is guaranteed a Ministerial reply. Though the promise to end the practice of tax-payer funded officials was made at Tory conference, it’s not as if the government have had a good week for doing what they once said they would.

Good to see that the pressure is being kept on…

Mad Frankie Swings the Axe

Hot off the podium:

“…the support they get from the taxpayer has got way out of hand. Just in the Civil Service alone this so-called facility time is costing no less than £30 million a year. Can you believe that there are around 150 civil servants who are actually full time trade union officials, all on the public payroll? We can’t go on like this. That’s why I’m announcing today that we’re consulting on limiting the time civil servants can spend on trade union work, and on ending the employment of full time union officials at the taxpayer’s expense.”

Guido will be buying the champagne later…

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