Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eric's unjustified attack on our unions

Eric Pickles, having devastated local government funding, is now determined to disrupt employee relations in local government with (ill-founded) "advice" on how to cut back on trade union "facility time." (

Mad Eric summarises his "advice" in ten points. Let's look at each one;

1. Councils should save taxpayers' money by significantly scaling back the cost of trade union facility time.

Eric, you are the one driving the need for facility time with your constant cuts! The time taken to do trade union work depends upon the issues being created for the union by the employer.

2. There should be full transparency on the level of facility time given to trade unions.

"Facility time" is not "given" to trade unions Eric. Employers have a duty to give reasonable time off with pay for elected representatives to carry out their trade union duties. Transparency wouldn't be a problem for any trade union branch worth its salt, but you need to understand that neither you nor our employers "give" us time - you and they demand we spend time dealing with issues which you create (and for which they then have a legal duty to pay us).

3. Employees should not be spending all or the majority of their working hours on trade union duties.

Oh Eric. You should not spend all or the majority of your time being a reactionary caricature of yourself (and I'm sure you don't mean to). Sometimes you find you have no choice though. The law requires employers to give "reasonable" time off with pay to elected officials to carry out trade union duties - in some cases that leads to full (or part) time release. Sane employers deal with this sensibly. You need a quiet sit down.

4. Time off for trade union activities should be unpaid.

Why Eric? The statutory Code of Practice, whilst acknowledging (of course) that the legal position is that the right to time off for trade union activities is a right to time off without pay, nevertheless acknowledges that employers may wish to permit time off with pay for trade union activities (not least to ensure that workplace meetings are representative). Naughty Eric doesn't appear to have any advice for local authorities about the evident applicability of the public sector equality duty to their decisionmaking on this topic either. Could it be you don't care about equality Eric?

5. The amount of facility time should be reduced and should be limited to a set percentage of an organisation's pay bill.

Eric! Employee relations isn't like a diet! You can't set a calorie limit in advance! The amount of paid time off which an organisation will be required by law to provide to trade union representatives will vary with the issues giving rise to the need for the time off. Try to spend some time listening to what is happening around you.

6. Councils should adopt private sector levels of facility time.

Now you're being lazy Eric. There is no single homogenous "private sector" to have "levels of facility time" and - to be honest - we public sector employees are increasingly fed up with being told to emulate the greed-driven sector of the economy that got us in to the financial mess which your Government hasn't a clue how to get out of. Shape up Eric. You're not impressing anyone.

7. Restrictions should be placed on the use of office facilities for trade union representatives.

Clearly you're tired after making six brief suggestions Eric, since you now turn to the meaningless. The facilities to be given to elected officials in employment are invariably a matter for discussion - as much in the interests of the organisation as of staff. If you deny union reps a telephone how do you suppose they'll talk to management?

8. Political material, or material which incites industrial action, should not be produced or distributed on or using taxpayer-funded facilities.

By this point I think Eric had wandered off (for lunch?) and left someone just to tick boxes. Given that political material has to be funded out of a voluntary political fund and that few employers ever permitted the use of their resources to pursue a fight against injustice, we need an informed debate (which we're not getting from daft Eric).

9. Councils should charge for collecting union subscriptions, or end the practice completely.

Most Councils charge for subs deduction already. It's hardly an expensive service to provide! Eric's visceral hostility to trade unions is, by now, quite clear.

10. Councillors should declare payments and sponsorship from trade unions and ensure there is no conflict of interest.

Bless little Eric, he's lost it hasn't he? We don't (as trade unions) make payments to or sponsor individual Councillors.

He probably knows that (as I don't think he's as stupid as he appears to be).

Could it be that a Secretary of State is deliberately misusing his role in Government to behave in a blatantly partisan way?

Could it be that a Government Minister is playing politics with no regard for the consequences of his action?



I'm afraid it could.

Eric Pickles was a poor Council Leader but is a far worse Government Minister. The Bullingdon millionaires presumably only keep him around because they think he's "common".

His attack on our trade unions must be rejected and resisted.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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