Cabinet Office reveal 100 more civil servants working full time for unions than previously thought

July 04, 2012 2:42 PM

The full extent of taxpayer-funded trade union activity in the public sector continues to unravel following the release of damning new findings by the Cabinet Office. The investigation into the actual time spent by civil servants on trade union duties revealed that 248 employees spend all of their time solely on trade union duties – 100 more than previously thought.

On top of this, the investigation uncovered more than 6,800 public sector staff who are paid by taxpayers but spend a proportion of their time carrying out work for unions. This is estimated to cost taxpayers in the region of £36 million a year.

Last year we revealed that there are almost 2,900 full time equivalent public sector employees who spend their time working on trade union duties, costing an estimated £80 million. This new research suggests that our findings underestimated the true costs because such a large number of public authorities do not record the information. Our research estimated the costs of trade union officials in Whitehall at £12.9 million; if similar differences were replicated across the wider public sector, our £80 million estimate could be closer to £240 million per year.

It is encouraging that the Government finally seems serious about getting a tighter grip on this flagrant use of taxpayers’ money. We will, however, reserve judgement until next week when the Cabinet Office releases its findings and recommendations along with its consultation into the future of public funding of trade union facility time.  Action in this area is long overdue and this new research reveals the situation to be even worse than we previously thought.The full extent of taxpayer-funded trade union activity in the public sector continues to unravel following the release of damning new findings by the Cabinet Office. The investigation into the actual time spent by civil servants on trade union duties revealed that 248 employees spend all of their time solely on trade union duties – 100 more than previously thought.

On top of this, the investigation uncovered more than 6,800 public sector staff who are paid by taxpayers but spend a proportion of their time carrying out work for unions. This is estimated to cost taxpayers in the region of £36 million a year.

Last year we revealed that there are almost 2,900 full time equivalent public sector employees who spend their time working on trade union duties, costing an estimated £80 million. This new research suggests that our findings underestimated the true costs because such a large number of public authorities do not record the information. Our research estimated the costs of trade union officials in Whitehall at £12.9 million; if similar differences were replicated across the wider public sector, our £80 million estimate could be closer to £240 million per year.

It is encouraging that the Government finally seems serious about getting a tighter grip on this flagrant use of taxpayers’ money. We will, however, reserve judgement until next week when the Cabinet Office releases its findings and recommendations along with its consultation into the future of public funding of trade union facility time.  Action in this area is long overdue and this new research reveals the situation to be even worse than we previously thought.

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