Facility time

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2019

Trade union facility time is one of the basic and most vital building blocks for local trade union organisation, and it is also of enormous benefit to employers. Since 2010, many local authorities have cut facility time significantly, sometimes driven by ideology and sometimes by cuts in funding.

Conference notes that in December 2018-January 2019 the local government service group surveyed branches on facility time, including the impact of the new publication requirements, cuts in facility time, and how facility time is allocated and implemented in different employers. The detailed findings of the survey can be found in a report sent to branches and regions in 2019.

Among the key findings:

1)22% of branches said that their employer had not discussed with them what information they needed;

2) 23% of branches said their employer’s published figures was not an accurate reflection of facility time use;

3) 64% of branches are not able to use facility time outside their ‘core’ employer;

4) 32% of branches have had their facility time cut in the last four years.

We must continue to be vigilant and oppose any moves to cut facility time.

Conference calls on the service group executive to:

a)On an annual basis, circulate UNISON’s guide to facility time to branches, and also to councillors;

b) Work with Labour Link, the Labour Party and other political parties where possible, to promote facility time among councillors;

c) Consult branches on priorities for ‘in-kind benefits’ and develop guidance;

d) Lobby the different political groupings at the Local Government Association, Welsh Local Government Association, Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities and Northern Ireland Local Government Association to ensure that in-kind benefits are recognised as a way of maintaining positive trade union relations in a cost-effective way;

e) Consider how to involve activists who hold regional/national positions and aren’t granted time off to attend these meetings;

f) Continue to monitor how new reporting requirements may impact on allocation of facility time to represent members in non-core employers;

g) Consult with regions on how facility time cuts are monitored and managed;

h) Consider ways to promote UNISON’s facility time guidance further;

i)Focus on increasing steward recruitment and training as a way of mitigating against facility time cuts;

j) Raise with other service groups and the NEC’s development and organisation committee the request for a review of different models of facility time allocation, and promoting different models based on the size, shape and spread of employers;

k) Raise with other service groups, the self-organised groups, and the NEC’s development and organisation committee the request for a review of how current facility time distribution may disproportionately favour particular groups within UNISON.