Over £100k spent on union jobs by council

editorial image

PUBLIC funds are being paid to full-time union representatives . . . while jobs and services are cut.

The three employees, who were elected to the posts by their members, are paid under an agreement with the council – with not a penny coming from union coffers.

A council insider alleged that the wage bill amounted to around £150,000, although the Herald understands the true figure is substantially lower.

The insider said: “It seems ridiculous that the council are paying these wages, but getting practically nothing for their money – especially when valued employees like crossing patrollers are being made redundant.

“Surely in these times of austerity this situation should be stopped.

“The reps are due to be relocated soon and again the council is going to be footing the bill.

“Why can’t the unions pay out some money for a change?”

But the union conveners insisted that the deal, under the council’s Partnership at Work agreement, represents good value for money.

EIS convener Ken Brown said: “This is a long-standing agreement between the joint trade unions and East Dunbartonshire Council which mirrors agreements within other councils in Scotland.

“The Partnership at Work agreement means that the unions and the council can work together to achieve jointly beneficial ends and it has brought significant gains for our members.

“It would be hard for the council to carry out its functions in terms of negotiating with employees if they did not have full-time union representatives.

Jim Burnett, Unison convener, added: “The situation is that, by law, employers are required to provide facility time for trade union activities.

“Larger organisations, such as East Dunbartonshire Council, find it more productive to have individuals on full-time secondment.”

And Unite convener John Duffy told the Herald: “This agreement was made to cut down on the number of hours members required to take off work.

“We get paid time off for union meetings, but this means that instead of 20 people taking time off for a meeting, only one person needs to.

“In a way it actually saves the council money.”

A council spokesperson confirmed: “The Partnership at Work agreement between the council and trade unions provides positions for three full-time trade union conveners.

“As part of the council’s accommodation strategy, in order to rationalise the estate and to secure ongoing budget savings, a number of service teams are being relocated, including the trade unions.”