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Thursday 26th
posted by Roger Bagley in Britain

Shadow minister accuses Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude of ramping up 'vicious' campaign against public-sector trade unions

Labour shadow minister Jonathan Ashworth accused the Tories yesterday of ramping up their “vicious” anti-union agenda with attacks on Whitehall’s trade union officials.

Mr Ashworth spoke to the Star after Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude crowed in the Commons that he would take yet more measures to curb paid facility time for union representatives.

Mr Maude said the government had put in place “arrangements to try to find out exactly what is going on” in government departments with regard to trade union activities and facility time.

He added: “The data is not yet, I regret to say, complete. But we will continue to pursue this.”

The minister was forced into a corner after Mr Ashworth pointed out that private-sector companies such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar-Land Rover supported facility time for union officials because they knew it helped workplace relations.

Mr Maude conceded that there were often advantages to having people resolve disputes quickly and locally before they escalated.

However, he boasted that the number of “taxpayer-funded full-time union officials” throughout government departments had been slashed from 200 in May 2010 to just around a dozen.

The minister eagerly agreed with a plea from Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke that the government should not spend taxpayers’ money on packing civil servants “off to the seaside” for union conferences.

Shadow cabinet office minister Mr Ashworth told the Star afterwards: “This latest Tory attack is just another example of their vicious anti-trade union agenda.”

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