Cash strapped Scottish Borders Council are forking out nearly £90,000 funding trade union officials, new figures show.
Across the public sector, some staff are allowed time off to fulfil roles with trade unions. Their salaries and the facilities they use continue to be paid for by the public sector organisations during this time. In some cases, this can mean that the rep is fully seconded from their regular job, enabling them to work full time on trade union tasks.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, Scottish Borders Council has admitted that it employs the equivalent of 5.5 full time staff to carry out work for trade unions and that a total of 33 staff carry out trade union duties on an ad hoc basis.
Overall, the Council is paying its own staff the equivalent of £89,630 to carry out trade union activities, despite Trade Unions having their own income streams and staff.
John Lamont MP said: “At a time when public finances at the Council are so squeezed, these figures will come as a surprise to many.
“It is correct that the public sector works closely with trade unions, and it may be appropriate for some public money to be spent on this, but forking out nearly £100,000 a year and allowing more than 30 members of staff time off for trade union work doesn’t seem like value for money.
“I’d hope that Scottish Borders Council will review these arrangements to make sure they represent value for money for taxpayers.
“Trade Unions receive donations from wealthy individuals and from their members, so shouldn’t be relying on cash strapped councils. If the unions they can afford to pay their bosses extortionate salaries, they should really be paying for their own staff.”