Union hits back at Lamont’s criticism

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A UNION official has hit out at criticism from John Lamont MSP about over £64,000 of council employee time being spent working for unions, writes Adam Drummond.

The ‘facility time arrangement’ costs were revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

Mr Lamont said: “When the amount of money being spent on facility time is so high there is no doubt in my mind that these arrangements need to be looked at. We cannot continue to spend money on staff that trade unions can well afford.”

However, Tony Trench, regional Unite organiser, said: “From Unite’s point of view we have spent a lot of time working with the council, including on wage constraints in place due to constraints on council spending imposed by Westminster.

“A lot of time has also been spent on equal pay claims in the last year, so this time is not being wasted.”

He added: “The other major issue we’re working extremely closely alongside the council on is health and safety, and we are well aware the Tories’ attitude to that is that it’s just red tape.

“But the council and ourselves want to make sure our members, and their employees, go home to their families at night.”

A council spokesman added: “We are legally obliged, under employment legislation, to consult and negotiate with the trades unions who are recognised under the appropriate agreements.

“The trades unions representatives carry out their union duties as employees of the council and we release them from duties as and when they are required to carry out their consultation and negotiation roles.

“This system enables the council to meet its legal obligations and promotes a positive industrial relations climate.”