Interesting question

Now, yes, in one sense I\’m anti-union. I don\’t see why one form of voluntary association should be legally privileged over another.

In another sense I\’m very decidedly pro-union. Freedom of association is as much a necessary (but not sufficient) bedrock of a free society as is freedom of speech. So if the Brothers and sisters which to gather together it\’s entirely right and correct that they be able to do so.

Then we get to stories like this:

Ministries and Government agencies spent more than £17 million paying staff to carry out “trade union activities” last year.

Some departments are paying staff to work full-time on trade union business.

This isn\’t the first time this story has turned up. But the bit that interests me is a tad subtle.

Is this an example of unions getting special featherbedding in the government sector? Or is this sort of arrangement common across all industries?

I confess to simply not knowing: does BAe, Rolls Royce, Honda, (to think of some large firms which I think are pretty well unionised) pay staff to carry out purely union activities?

I know from stories that, for example, GM in the US does. But how common (or uncommon) is this in UK industry?

If it\’s something which is generally accepted across different sectors then my view of it is different from if it is purely and solely in the public sector.

So, anyone know?

7 comments on “Interesting question

  1. I’ve just had a brilliant idea.

    The fact that I am the first person to comment upon this could mean that other readers have no idea as to how trade unions in the UK currently operate. Accordingly, any opinions they express on unions should be considered white noise from the echo chamber of received wisdom.

  2. From direct.gov.uk:

    Time off for trade union duties and activities

    If you are a shop steward, or equivalent trade union official, of a trade union that is recognised and independent, you are entitled to reasonable paid time off to:

    * carry out your duties as an official
    * receive training relevant to carrying out those duties

    So all employers with recognised unions pay shop stewards for time spent carrying out union duties.

  3. “The fact that I am the first person to comment upon this could mean that other readers have no idea as to how trade unions in the UK currently operate.”

    Or it could just mean you were the first person to comment upon this.

  4. Well come on Martin, its a fairly ridiculous claim that being the first person to comment on a topic is evidence that anyone else who comments has no idea on what they are talking about. If you want to make silly claims like that, expect to be be called on it.

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