Bid to cut union payments is defeated

WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey has backed union reps after a Conservative backbencher put forward proposals to stop them getting certain payments.

Labour MPs defeated a Bill last week introduced by Tory MP Jesse Norman, who wanted to see an end to payments by employers to union officials for activities in working time.

Mr Healey worked for the Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union and Trades Union Council before becoming a Labour MP.

He said: “This Bill attacks the most basic and most benign feature of trade union work—the day-to-day support for staff at work by their colleagues who are prepared to volunteer as trade union representatives.”

He described Mr Norman’s speech as “a cheap-shot” based on “ignorance, ideology and inaccurate briefings from the TaxPayers Alliance” and said the Bill was a “personal attack on around 200,000 people who are ready to help their colleagues.”

The bill, which was introduced under the ‘ten-minute rule’ in the Commons, was rejected by the house by a majority of 79, with 211 votes against it compared to 132 in favour.

Mr Healey said reps in the public sector contributed up to 100,000 unpaid hours each week, adding: “Our union reps are the unsung heroes of the long, proud British tradition of volunteering. They are the workplace wing of the Prime Minister’s big society.

“They support their colleagues and they save employers and the Exchequer millions of pounds each year by reducing the number of employment tribunals and days lost through illness and injury.

“By improving productivity and training, they help organisations to get through periods of great pressure and great change.”