“SHORT-SIGHTED” plans to cap paid time off for union reps in the Tories’ Trade Union Bill would mean huge losses for taxpayers, the TUC revealed yesterday.
Every £1 that is spent on wages for public-sector workers on “facility time” — hours allocated for attending to their union representative duties — garners savings of at least £2.31, its study found.
This system improves staff retention, improves industrial relations and reduces loss of productivity caused by stress and illness, it said.
Most public-sector managers valued and trusted the work of union reps, said the TUC while the House of Lords discusses the Bill and the government’s wishes to reduce facility time hours.
Staff turnover in the health sector is almost three times lower in workplaces with union reps than in those without, according to analysis by Bradford University.This amounts to a saving of m ore than £66 million a year for the NHS alone in recruitment costs.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Union reps help save taxpayers millions of pounds a year by making workplaces healthier and more productive. Paid time off for public-sector union reps to represent their members is granted by employers because it is good for staff wellbeing, improves communication and stops problems escalating into disputes.
“This government’s decision to cap facility time in the public sector is incredibly short-sighted. It will serve only to strain industrial relations.”
Bradford University professor of industrial relations Gregor Gall, who authored the report, said: “This research lays to bed the myth that facility time is a drain on public resources.
“It delivers clear cost benefits and is good for both employers and employees. Facility time is essential for modern and effective workplace relations.”