Wednesday, 12 October 2011
In which the Labour Party put their union paymasters before the Bradford public...
Yesterday Bradford Council debated the £438,000 (or more) that it spends on funding full-time trade union officials. It was a time of much gaiety as Labour councillor indignation levels ticked ever higher leading to ever more fanciful interpretations of our motives for moving the motion.
We began by explaining how this wasn’t about the “reasonable facility time” that trade union (and other staff) representatives are granted in law but concerned the 15 or so full-time trade union organisers paid for by Bradford’s hard-pressed council tax payers.
Labour wouldn’t have this and chose instead to build a vast army of straw men – the motion was an attack on unions, the Labour Party and democracy in the UK according to Labour council leader, Ian Greenwood (former full time Union official, recipient of a Unison pension on health grounds and dweller in a council flat despite earning well over £50,000).
Indeed proclaimed said council leader, the motion was an attack on the “human rights” of union members by denying them representation (there are some 200 union representatives in the Council – the motion concerned only the 15 full-time officials).
Other Labour councillors rose to their feet expressing their undying love for trade unionism and the absolute rightness of spending your and my taxes on funding its activities, recruitment and organisation. One councillor – Gill Thornton – catalogued why unions were so important. After all they’d funded her seven or eight election campaigns! (Every single Labour councillor declared receiving funding for election campaigns from unions)
I found it exceedingly odd how the City Solicitor deemed that receiving a declared donation to an election campaign or other political activity isn’t a prejudicial interest. I’m pretty sure that the same answer wouldn’t apply to me if the matter concerned say, Cullingworth Conservative Club (I sort of asked but got something of an equivocal answer from the City Solicitor).
In the end, Labour won its vote – backed by Bradford’s rather supine Liberal Democrats and the watermelons in our Green Party. We will carry on spending approaching half-a-million of taxes taken from struggling Bradford residents on preening trade union officials while Labour – locally and nationally – benefits from the largess of those unions.
Until earlier this year when, by chance, we discovered about the full-time union organisers on the rates, it had never crossed my mind – not for a second – that the Council was paying these wages. Our concern isn’t an attack on trade unions but – in tough financial times – recognising that we simply can’t afford the indulgence of paying for union officials using taxpayers cash.
Instead of taking this saving, Labour prefer to shut libraries, close swimming pools and remove support from disabled adults. All so their mates in the unions keep their well paid jobs.