Jim Allister wonders why the public treasury pays £ 147,000 every year for trade unionists in just one department in Stormont
Mr Allister had written to Conor Murphy’s Finance Department, asking how many public servants are currently publicly funded as full-time union officials, and how much this arrangement costs.
The ministry replied that it could only answer on its own, and it has an answer regarding the other eight ministries in Northern Ireland.
Finance Minister Murphy said his department pays the salary costs of 3.82 full-time equivalent public servants who, although still employed by the department, work as full-time union officials.
The cost for 2020/21 was £ 147,286.
In response, TUV leader Mr Allister told the News Letter: “Although unions play an important role in representing workers’ interests, this cost will seem excessive to many, especially when unions raise their own. funds from their members.
“In addition, there is the issue of overtly political campaigns in which unions are increasingly involved, some of which are extremely controversial.”
He noted that union figures have campaigned in recent years on a range of controversial issues (ranging, for example, from transgender and abortion, to the Arab-Israeli conflict and Irish reunification).
“Therefore, there will be those who will question the wisdom of a non-partisan public service paying for full-time union leaders,” Allister added.
The News Letter shared its comments with the NIPSA, which represents 16,700 public servants (plus about 24,000 more in places like the Housing Executive and health trusts).
In total, the government’s own figures show that NI has 21,600 full-time equivalents in the public service, meaning that NIPSA would represent more than three-quarters of them.
NIPSA bills itself as the largest union in Northern Ireland and its membership rates range from just over £ 2 per month for people earning £ 5,000 per year (minus pension contributions) to just over £ 2 per month. over £ 13 for people earning £ 31,215.
This is an annual range of £ 24.96 per year up to a maximum of £ 156 per year.
Carmel Gates, NIPSA Deputy Secretary General, said: “Mr. Allister is confusing two separate issues.
“The financing of union representatives is entirely intended for their union duties. “
It means purely job-related things like salary negotiations or disciplinary matters – and she pointed out that this is quite different from “union activity that union representatives get involved … on broader social issues ”.
Ms Gates was told that when departments pay for union officials to work on job-related tasks, it surely frees up other people to focus on social activism.
“The union tasks performed by NIPSA help employers across the public sector, and other unions have similar arrangements in the public and private sectors,” she said.
“Employers do not directly or indirectly fund political campaigns. “
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