Council leader who hired a £42k a year adviser cuts facility time
A TORY council leader was accused of “gross hypocrisy” yesterday for attempting to slash union facility time while hiring her own £42,000-a-year adviser.
Portsmouth City Council seems “hell-bent” on worsening industrial relations by slashing the funding for trade union reps who represent workers, Unite said.
The union called the plans “self-defeating” as reps taking facility time provide representation to workers, smoothing out the disciplinary process and averting possible escalations into a potential industrial dispute.
Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones has claimed that facility time was “a luxury” the authority could do without.
But the union pointed out that when she became council leader in 2014 she hired her own policy and strategy adviser at a salary of £42,000 a year, despite already having an experienced top management team to offer her advice.
Unite said that the council’s proposals to halve the funding from April — due to be discussed by the full council on February 14 — was “short-sighted,” motivated by anti-union bias and would be detrimental to employment relations.
Regional officer Richard White said: “What we have here is a case of double standards — council leader Donna Jones has described facility time that promotes good working practice across the council as a luxury, while liberally splashing out council taxpayers’ cash on her own policy advisor.
“I will let the citizens of Portsmouth decide which is the better use of public money — a long-established system that provides a smooth-running employment structure for the 3,600-strong council workforce, or the ego boost of having your own policy adviser?
“We are calling on the full council to restore the facility budget.
“This figure has been consistently underspent over the years due to carefully scrutiny by the trade unions.”
He called on the council to restore the facility time budget for all unions claiming that there had already been a consistent under-spend in previous years due to “careful scrutiny by the trade unions.”
The council told the Star that Ms Jones flatly denied claims by Unite that she appointed a policy adviser.
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