Labour MPs accused government ministers today of an Orwellian plot to label valuable work by trade union reps in local councils as a "cost" rather than a huge benefit.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis revealed that he is considering a new "transparency code" to inform local taxpayers of the "cost" of providing union facility time.
Labour MPs accused the minister of turning facts on their head and ignoring hugely valuable work performed by union reps to the benefit of local councils, workers and council taxpayers.
Leyton MP John Cryer warned that the so-called transparency code would be "just a pretence and a fiction" which would simply give a bald figure of the cost of replacing trade union reps in working time.
"This is the sort of Orwellian twisting of reality similar to the Newspeak in George Orwell's book 1984," added Mr Cryer.
Union rights campaigner John Healey MP accused the "blinkered" minister of making "one of the most one-sided ministerial statements I've ever seen."
Mr Healey proclaimed: "Ministers should be celebrating not condemning union reps.
"Many managers know the benefits are much bigger than the costs, and that union reps save millions for employers and the Exchequer by reducing working days lost to injury and illness, reducing employment tribunal cases, improving take-up of training and improving productivity."
Mr Healey demanded that the benefits of union reps must also be included in any new transparency code.
Left MP Ian Lavery urged unions to step up resistance to attacks on facility time and office facilities, and combat attempts to reintroduce the "check-off system" for trade union dues.
The minister made his hard-line statement in a written parliamentary answer slipped out last Friday.
He is urging councillors "to review the subsidies and funding being provided to trade unions at taxpayers' expense."
Mr Lewis's statement followed hard on the heels of a "consultation" with Civil Service unions regarding union facility time in government departments which finished on September 7.
He said local government ministers would in due course provide "specific guidance" for councils on a review of facility time, which would also include the issue of payroll collection of union dues, and cutting back on free office facilities.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
A look at the causes and possible outcomes of Silvio Berlusconi and his right-wing coalition's lead in the polls.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed