Facility Time Campaign

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2012 Police & Justice Conference
14 June 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference condemns the growing threat of attacks on elected trade union representatives, at both the local level and nationally in police, probation and the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS).

Conference notes that on the same day that a million UNISON members took industrial action to defend their pensions, Prime Minister David Cameron made the inflammatory statement that a review on trade union facility time should take place, with a particular focus on the number of representatives on full time release in the public sector.

Conference is alarmed by the ongoing narrative within the Conservative Party and parts of the media that draws shamelessly on the flawed work of the right-wing Taxpayers’ Alliance to attack facility time as a costly burden to employers and taxpayers. Conference also notes the formation of the Trade Union Reform Campaign set up by Tory MP Aiden Burley.

Conference believes that this approach is deliberately lopsided and completely fails to acknowledge the benefits that facility time brings to employers and taxpayers. For example, previous government research found that hundreds of millions a year were being saved by lower dismissal rates, fewer Employment Tribunal cases, fewer workplace injuries and less workplace related illnesses in unionised workplaces with union reps.

Conference notes that many significant private sector employers specifically provide paid support for union reps because they recognise the value this brings them in terms of good industrial relations, effective and informed consultation and improved productivity.

Conference applauds the tireless work undertaken by UNISON representatives in the Police and Justice Service Group, carrying out often demanding, complex and stressful roles in workplaces across the UK, with TUC surveys suggesting that much of this time is not actually paid for by employers but is made up of unpaid hours of their own time.

Conference is concerned about the impact that removing facility time could have on UNISON’s organising agenda in police, probation and CAFCASS and on our democratic structures if members are unable to undertake union work or attend meetings in the same way as currently.

Conference welcomes UNISON’s new Guide to Facility Time as an important recognition of the threats that face the union.

In addition to facility time, Conference is concerned that future attacks may be aimed at trade union use of DOCAS (Deduction of Contributions at Source) facilities to efficiently collect subscription income. In light of this, Conference reasserts the importance of the union obtaining and maintaining accurate and up to date membership information.

Conference therefore calls upon the SGE to:

1)Challenge the accuracy of misleading reports or statements designed specifically to attack trade union representatives rights in the Police and Probation Services and in CAFCASS

2)Seek to work with the employers covered by our Service Group to make a joint case for paid time off for trade union representatives in police, probation and CAFCASS, particularly in the current climate of redundancies, restructuring and privatisation

3)Support branches facing local attacks on facility time