A fair question and one we should ask here

Jesse Norman is the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, and a member of the Treasury Select Committee and he asks, Why are taxpayers still funding the unions?

Say the word “pilgrim”, and the mind conjures up images of devotion: the Pilgrim Fathers landing at Plymouth Rock; the pilgrims that flock to pray at Lourdes; the Muslims who make once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimages to Mecca. Last year, however, the word “pilgrim” took on a new and less devotional meaning: that of a union representative in the public services who spends all their working time on union activities, yet is funded by the taxpayer. The term was coined in honour of Jane Pilgrim, a nurse-turned-union rep at St George’s Hospital, Tooting. She told the press that Andrew Lansley had lied about cuts to the NHS on a visit to the hospital, in a meeting she had never attended.

This was in no sense reputable union activity; it was politicking pure and simple. And it was paid for by you and me. This problem is now endemic across the public sector. A recent report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, taken from 1,300 public sector organisations, showed that trade unions received £113 million from public sector organisations in 2010-11 in direct payments and paid staff time. Over the lifetime of a parliament, this would amount to more than half a billion pounds.

Last year there were an estimated 2,840 full-time-equivalent public sector employees who worked not for the schools or hospitals or local authorities where they were based, but for the trade unions. The Department for Work and Pensions had 308 such staff; HM Revenue and Customs had 181. Just think of that when you fill in your tax form this month.

This week, I am bringing a motion for a Bill before the House of Commons to end taxpayer funding of trade unions. The point of the measure is not to attack the unions, many of which do very good work on behalf of their members. No, the issue is one of basic principle: is it appropriate for the taxpayer to subsidise any large-scale activity by private organisations? And if it is, should this be allowed without proper processes of competitive tender and public accountability?

How much money in our own state sector is being funneled into union coffers? The Employment Relations Education Contestable Fund is still advertised though the government haled allocations in 2010/11. At its height it was dispensing more than $1.3 million in just one year to unions. The last available figures show unions availed themselves of over $600,000 of taxpayer funding.

I wonder though if there are other union subsidies or situations similar to the above cases in New Zealand?

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.