Civil service unions under scrutiny

The Government has launched a consultation into how much paid time off civil servants should be allowed for trade union duties, saying the practice costs the taxpayer £36m a year.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said at least 6,800 trade union reps took paid time off – facility time – with around 250 working full-time on union business.

The Minister said changes were urgently needed to reflect modern working practices.

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“We believe that trade unions play an important role in the modern workplace, but it’s time to redress the balance between supporting effective engagement with employee representatives and providing better value for the taxpayer.”

He went on: “It isn’t right that taxpayers are funding full-time union representatives who haven’t done a civil service job in years.”

The consultation will last for eight weeks with the Government saying it wanted to find a balance between engagement with unions and value for the taxpayer.