The STUC has welcomed new Scottish Government guidance on facility time, which has had its first direct outcome with the news that West Dunbartonshire Council has reversed its decision to cut facility time.
The decision follows intense lobbying by local government unions UNISON, EIS, UNITE the Union, and GMB.
The agreed guidance advises employers to provide no data beyond that required by legislation, and to ensure that the regulations are not used as the basis for reducing facility time.
The guidance proposed by the Scottish Government was approved by the STUC General Council today. It responds to the Westminster Trade Union Act 2017 which requires public sector employers to publish information relating to facility time. The Act was opposed by trade unions as well as the Scottish Government.
The agreed guidance states:
‘The UK Government’s reporting requirements do not seek to capture any of the benefits of facility time and focus solely on costs.
‘The Scottish Government is committed to working with public bodies, the STUC and trade unions to prevent the facility time reporting requirements from undermining the role of trade union representatives’.
Grahame Smith, General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, said:
‘We welcome the positive attitude adopted by the Scottish Government in producing this guidance on facility time, not just for its own employees but for the whole of the public sector.
‘This first example of its successful impact will be used by public sector unions to ensure no other employers seek to play to the Tories’ tune.
‘It is in stark contrast to Westminster’s wrong-headed approach that stokes division in workplaces and follows the dogma of right-wing, self-appointed organisations like the Taxpayers Alliance that mask their ideological opposition to unions by peddling nonsense about facility time and ignoring the very real benefits it brings.
‘At Congress we will be celebrating the vital job done by workplace union reps. Their time is spent resolving workplace disputes, maintaining health and safety standards, and developing the skills and education of workers.
‘Every day, union reps are winning in the workplace. These victories rarely hit the headlines – but they demonstrate the value and relevance of unions.’