UNIONS should pay for their own activities, a councillor has claimed, after it was revealed Kirklees Council staff could go on strike.
Tory leader Coun Robert Light (Birstall & Birkenshaw) says taxpayers foot an annual bill of £750,000 for full-time union officials.
He spoke out after Unison announced they are balloting 6,500 members at the authority over proposed industrial action.
Voting, which was sparked after two part-time workers at a school in Huddersfield were made redundant, began yesterday (Thursday).
Coun Light’s comments also come at a time when spending is being reviewed due to anticipated Government budget cuts.
He said: “If the council is to move forward as a lean and efficient service provider then the present situation is unsustainable.
“Kirklees is faced with a severe spending review. By continuing to fund the unions the council is burying its head in the sand.
“The council and its staff need to become more customer focused. But unions often oppose change.
“If they are to continue to function in Kirklees then they should be paying their officials from their own funds.”
Unison, meanwhile, claim the council has breached a temporary agreement banning compulsory redundancies.
Kirklees Unison branch secretary Paul Holmes said: “Redundancies don’t help anyone. They just deflate the economy.
“And why does Kirklees, which underspent by £5m last year, need to make low-paid part-time workers redundant?”
A council spokesman said: “It’s disappointing that the union are balloting for strike action while negotiations over this issue are still ongoing.
“It’s a complex issue but we will continue to work to limit the number of job reductions while providing a service to the public.”