KIRKLEES Council has been named as one of the biggest spenders on trade union officials in the country.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) says Kirklees ‘wastes’ about £455,000 a year on allowing union stewards paid time off to represent their members.
Of the councils that responded to the TPA enquiry, only Birmingham, Leeds and Leicester spent more.
The cost to the taxpayer for allowing stewards time off has been criticised by the TPA.
However, despite council bosses vowing to slash the amount spent to around £300,000 over the next 12 months, they defended the money being spent.
Council leader David Sheard said: “It doesn’t bother me if they are doing the job right, representing the workforce and helping with procedures.
‘It’s better to use your own staff than to involve lawyers.
“If everything was done through lawyers it would cost a damn sight more.
“So I agree with it if they are purely working on terms and conditions and not campaigning.” Alex Wild, research director of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, said: “Trade unions are voluntary bodies of members and so should only receive the support of those members, not taxpayers.
“At a time when every part of the public sector has to make necessary savings, tens of millions of pounds cannot be wasted on subsidising political campaigns at the expense of hard-pressed families.”