Council cost cutting could hit the unions

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A BID is being made to slash the cost of trades union representatives employed by the council.

Fifteen shop stewards are allowed time off with pay to deal with work-related union affairs and £80,000 is paid to representative of six unions involved with schools and education services.

Conservative group leader Stephen Baines will try to persuade Calderdale Council to vote for money-saving reforms when it meets on Thursday.

He will tell the council: “We understand and recognise the valuable role played by trades unions in ensuring affective industrial relations and reaffirms the principle of providing reasonable support, including time off for stewards.

“But considering the current financial pressures the council is under, we can no longer afford the generous paid time off allowance for union duties.”

In a joint union response, Sue McMahon, Calderdale branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The motion shows a lack of understanding about the duties and responsibilities of trades unions.

“Workers need our services more than ever and this attack on the rights of workers will be resisted,” she said.

Councillor Baines (North/Shelf) wants to see the maximum time off allowed for each union steward to be reduced from 10 to eight hours a month and for a maximum of 15 to be permitted to take time off with pay.

Also, time off must be approved in advance by top managers and records showing the costs incurred opened to public scrutiny.

He wants Calderdale Schools Forum, which is made up of councillors, headteachers and governors, to consider the impact on education staff.