Everyone who has ever received support from UNISON knows how vital our union’s activists are. In every branch, they are the beating heart of the union, UNISON members working tirelessly to support other UNISON members around the clock and all year round.
Without UNISON activists, there would be no UNISON.
And yet, year after year, our union and our activists come under fire from those who would strip many of them of the facility time they – and their employers – rely on. Once again, the so-called “Taxpayers Alliance” – who seem to oppose public spending more than they represent the majority of taxpayers – have turned their fire on facility time.
Yet, as those same activists and those who rely on them know, facility time is vitally important and poorly understood – not least because it benefits employers as well as workers needing representation. As outlined in the 2016 report “The benefits of paid time off for trade union representatives”, for every £1 spent on trade union facility time, taxpayers get “at least” £2.31 back. That’s because, as the same report shows, facility time leads to “improved staff retention, reduced illness and boosted industrial relations”.
Happier, safer, healthier staff. Lower staff turnover. All of which saves public services money.
Yet this facility time which saves so much money is apparently what the self-appointed representatives of taxpayers wish to cut back – an utterly self-defeating move that would end up costing the taxpayer more, not less. Of course, those who wish to attack trade unions and facility time don’t really care about saving money – they care about wiping out organised labour in this country, so that they and their ideological bedfellows can run amok in an unregulated, post-Brexit marketplace.
Well UNISON has a message for them. Public services have been put through the wringer thanks to austerity, but despite everything we’ve had thrown as us, we are still standing. Still defending rights at work. Still fighting for better pay and better conditions. We won’t be chased out of our workplaces and we won’t step back for the fights to come.
You can attack us all you want – we aren’t going anywhere.