Two new laws have been passed this week as a direct result of TPA campaigning which will save taxpayers' money — these are examples of how supporting our work, which has pushed for change, can lead to huge results.
Trade Union Act
Over the last 12 years, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has argued that taxpayers’ money should not be used to subsidise trade unions. Huge amounts of our cash is given to unions, either directly through funding or paid staff time at public sector bodies. A number of bodies also automatically deduct trade union subscriptions through the payroll, often without charging the union for that process. It is wrong that taxpayers have seen their money used to subsidise trade unions, who organise strikes that disrupt services for which taxpayers already pay handsomely.
We were pleased, therefore, to see the Trade Union Bill receive royal assent. This is the culmination of years of campaigning and hard work by our campaign and research teams, as well as numerous letters, phone calls and messages of support from our supporters.
Check-off and Facility Time
The TPA’s 2014 report TaxPayer funding of trade unions 2012-13, highlighted that public bodies were often deducting trade union subscriptions in the payroll process without charging the union – out of 972 bodies who deduct union dues from employees’ salaries, only 213, or 22%, charged for the service meaning, effectively meaning 78% offer the service for free.
On check-off, the government has announced the following -
"The Trade Union Act will improve union practices and increase transparency by reducing the burden on taxpayers by ensuring that payroll deductions for trade union subscriptions are only administered where the cost is not funded by the public."
Regarding Facility Time, the government have ensured that public sector employers will be required to publish facility time information - how many employees are union officials, how much is spent by an employer paying for facility time and the percentage of an employers total bill paying out for facility time.
More transparency, better accountability for the public sector and less waste of taxpayers’ money has to be seen as a positive move. But it is disappointing that the government withdrew from its original plan to end the practice of supporting the collection of trade union subscriptions altogether. It is simply not the business of public sector employers to be processing the union dues of their staff – but this is an encouraging start and another TPA Victory.
The Act also goes some way to protecting the public from undemocratic industrial action. The Trade Union Act ensures that industrial action can only go ahead when there has been a ballot turnout of at least 50% - almost 3 million days were lost between 2011 and 2014 due to strike action. No longer can the system be abused by a small minority of militant activists – this is good news for business, commuters and, after years of campaigning, the TaxPayers’ Alliance can chalk up yet another victory for the taxpayer.
Following the release last year of our Public Sector Rich List, our most comprehensive single piece of work on public sector pay, perks and pay-offs, the government has now formally limited the egregious golden goodbyes we see all too often in the public sector.
The Enterprise Act, also receiving Royal Assent this week, legally ends the six figure pay-off, with the new law putting a cap of £95,000 to any person leaving the public sector.
Another win for TPA campaigning - not only in setting the news agenda but directly influencing government policy.