Taxpayers’ group hits 
out over ‘scandal’ of £100m unions subsidy

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TRADE unions receive a public subsidy worth more than £100m a year, it is claimed today.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said its research shows that public sector bodies give trade unions £23m in direct payments and an estimated £85m by paying staff when they are taking part in union work.

Alliance chief executive Jon-athan Isaby said: “It is simply wrong that taxpayers continue to see their money used to pay thousands of trade union activists who organise strikes which disrupt the services that they rely on and pay for handsomely.

“Thousands of staff who should be working for the taxpayer are working for the trade unions instead. It’s welcome that the number has fallen, but far more must be done.

“Tens of millions of pounds are being wasted on supporting aggressive political campaigns. The Government must crack down on this scandalous subsidy.”

Among the organisations found to be giving money to unions was East Riding Council which made payments totalling almost £4,000 to three teaching unions.

York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Health Care NHS Trust both gave time off to employees to take part in union activities equivalent to 18 full-time staff.

With the Government continuing to impose significant cuts in spending pressure has been growing on Ministers to reduce the amount of time spent by public sector staff on union duties –known as “facility time” – as well as other support.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance figures published today suggest the Department of Work and Pensions approved facility time equivalent to 248 full-time staff last year.

HM Revenue and Customs and the Ministry of Defence also had the equivalent of more than 100 staff working for unions.

Trade unions have vigorously defended the help they receive, arguing that their representatives play a crucial role in providing advice and negotiating with managers that is an asset to organisations.