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Wednesday 8 August 2012

Tory attack on union facility time is nothing more than mischief making, says UNISON

UNISON has hit back against Tory attacks on trade union facility time and says it amounts to nothing more than mischief making.

Their attack is also factually inaccurate, as union reps do not ‘work’ for unions as the Tories falsely claim. Facility time is time off from an individual’s job, granted by the employer, to enable a trade union rep to carry out their trade union role.

Trade union facility time is common practice in both the private and public sector, endorsed by law and statutory guidance and widely accepted by employers as a sensible way of facilitating engagement with workplace representatives.

Mike Kirby, UNISON’s Scottish Secretary, said:

“The Tories attack on trade union reps is nothing more than mischief making. Union reps are, in fact, a massive boost to our workplaces. We all know the value of trade union facility time; study after study has confirmed that trade union representatives save councils money through their everyday work around sickness absence, suspensions, training, reductions in tribunal claims and costly legal action. This adds up to a massive saving for the taxpayer.

“Given the huge scale of cuts hitting the public sector, the role of workplace reps in our public services is more important than ever before. Attacking union reps – who already give countless hours of extra work outside of their facility time – doesn’t make any sense and would only cost the taxpayer more money in the long run.”


Notes for editors

An independent report by NatCen Social Research for UNISON, published in June, shows facility time for trade union reps in the public sector saves the taxpayer money, cuts the number of strikes and disputes and improves workplace relations.

The report highlighted the following key benefits that facility time brings to public sector workplaces:

· Creating a ready-made structure for consultation and negotiation, saving organisations money and giving workers reassurance that their views will be heard when decisions are made.

· Allowing partnership working with trade unions to improve workplace relations, helping to create the reputation of an employer as ‘a good place to work’.

· Earlier intervention in relation to complaints, grievances and disciplinaries, helping to stop issues escalating, which saves organisations and ultimately taxpayers’ money.

· Better communication to manage change during restructuring and redundancy processes; thereby improving understanding of decisions, minimising negative impacts and reducing the number of working days lost through industrial action.

The full report is available here: http://bit.ly/MxgxrS

A two-page summary of the findings is available here: http://bit.ly/NDMCbu

For more information
Trisha Hamilton, UNISON Scotland’s Communications Officer, on 0141 342 2877 or 07939 478 461.