An earlier attempt by the Council to debate Councillor Alan Lamb’s proposal was adjourned in July to look into the possible legal implications of councillors who are also trade union members voting on the issue. That has presumably now been sorted, as an extraordinary meeting of the Council has been called for Wednesday 7th September to debate the proposal.
Lamb’s proposal says:
“This council believes that given the current state of the public finances taxpayer subsidy of full time Trade Union officials should now be brought to an end. The £417,000 annual cost to taxpayers in Leeds for 15 full time convenors is now unjustifiable both in terms of the massive budget pressure faced by Leeds City Council and the programme of cuts to frontline services currently being undertaken by the Labour administration.”
Lamb says that councils across Yorkshire are paying over £2.5m in subsidies to full-time union officials at a time when, he says, the unions are making million-pound donations to political parties.
Responding to the proposal in July, Unison regional manager Alan Hughes said Conservative politicians across the country were “conspiring to undermine fundamental trade union rights in order to pave the way for privatisation of public services”.
“Trade union reps are given time off by law to allow them to represent their members, consult and negotiate about terms and conditions and ensure staff are working in safe conditions,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Employees have employment rights and choose to have them protected by joining a union. Slashing time off for trade unions will leave unions unable to defend some basic human rights.”
Strangely enough, there’s been no mention of the subsidies issue on the website of the Leeds Local Government Branch of Unison.