Sheffield Liberal Democrat councillors have been criticised for their persistent calls to cut trade unions in the workplace. 

Every year the council sets its finances for the year ahead and every year the Lib Dems call for trade union to conveyors to be cut. This was true of this year, and each of the five years preceding it.

Each year Labour councillors have voted down these proposals.

The provision of trade union secondments (“the tax payer subsidy to trade unions” as the Lib Dems arrogantly, and incorrectly, call it) – is not only good for employees but it actually saves tax-payers money. The lib Dems proposals would increase the Council’s overall expenditure.

It is, in short, a false economy.

Without proper Trade Union representation workers will be exposed to costly Employment Tribunal and personal injury claims – which would otherwise have been prevented through the guidance and involvement of seconded representatives; statutory formal procedures will take longer to complete as the Council fails to find trade union stewards available to participate.

Collective agreements formed by employer and trade unions on behalf of the staff, which benefit both the Council and the employees, would not as often be reached under Lid Dem proposals as trade union representatives would be unlikely to be released by their local manager to work on these or get their existing work covered in their absence.

At a time when Council workers have seen widespread job loses it is outrageous to want to further erode workers’ rights as the Lib Dems are proposing.

Trade Unions provide protection, reassurance and independent advice that Council staff receive. Trade unions are the last line of defence for public services and the workers who keep them going. The politics of austerity and cuts means they are more important than ever.

Far from being a waste, these activities save taxpayers money in the long run. Research undertaken on behalf of the Trades Union Congress found that (before the pandemic) in the public sector, there are 8,000-16,000 fewer dismissals every year thanks to union reps. Unionised workers are also significantly less likely to quit, as they have a mechanism to sort out any problems. Recruiting and training new employees is expensive, and it’s estimated that £27m-£54m of public money is saved by reducing staff turnover.

Union health and safety reps help save money too: fewer injuries mean less time off, and fewer compensation payments.

We will always support Sheffield workers and the city’s unions. If the Lib Dems take control of Sheffield Council they will attack workers’ rights.

We can’t let them – vote Labour on 6th May to protect your rights at work. 

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