Council is urged to cut union pay

PAY for trade union officials working at Kirklees Council should be cut to protect public services, a councillor has demanded.
Coun Robert Light (Con, Birstall and Birkenshaw) spoke out after figures showed the authority spent £275,938 last year on nine union officials.
The Tory group leader feels this figure could be slashed by up to half through bosses opting out of voluntary agreements.
Trade union officials in the public and private sectors are legally entitled to paid time off to carry out duties and receive training.
Coun Light believes Kirklees goes well beyond the legal minimum and said: “There’s a number of voluntary agreements that could be cut.
“You could save up to £140,000 doing that. No union in the private sector gets the amount of subsidy and time off that local government unions get.
“It is unacceptable and should come to an end. Why should the unions be sponsored by taxpayers at a time when services are being cut? 
“If you gave the public a choice of spending that money on libraries, schools or care homes or on trade union officials, I think I know which they’d choose.”
The spending was revealed in data about 319 authorities released under Freedom of Information. Councils paid out £35m in total from 2008 to 2011.
Kirklees came ninth last year. Leeds was third with a £348,274 bill while Sheffield came top for paying out more than £500,000.   
Leonie Sharp, of Unison, which has 11,000 members in its Kirklees branch, said: “This can’t be regarded simply as a ‘cost’ to the employer.
“Officials work tirelessly to improve working practices, check  workplaces are safe and productive and work on initiatives to safeguard services.”

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