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Trade Unions

Volume 508: debated on Monday 22 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many staff of his Department and its agencies are seconded to trade unions; what facilities are made available to them; how many days other staff of his Department and its agencies spent on trade union activity in the latest year for which figures are available; and what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of such activity. (320663)

One member of staff is currently seconded to PCS for a period of six months under normal secondment arrangements. The Home Office is not responsible for salary payment, or provision of facilities, during the period of secondment.

The Home Office and its agencies, UKBA, IPS and CRB, employ approximately 28,000 staff in total. There are four recognised unions with 13 members of Home Office staff working as full-time union representatives under the Departmental Facilities Agreement (one FDA, one Prospect, nine PCS and two ISU representatives). In addition to the 13 full-time representatives, we also provide three members of Home Office staff as administrative support for the union representatives.

A further 79 members of our staff (three ISU and 76 PCS representatives) undertake trade union duties on an “as required” basis. The Home Office Departmental Facilities Agreements formalise the arrangements under which our staff can claim facility time but we do not keep a central record of how much time is used.

It is not possible to calculate the exact amount of facility time agreed for union activity and for this reason, it is also not possible to provide a realistic estimate of the total cost.

As part of our Departmental Facilities Agreement full-time representatives have access to dedicated office space with associated business equipment, e.g. computers, photocopying and telephony and may also utilise departmental mail, email, internet and video conferencing facilities. Union representatives provided with “as required” facility time are given access to the same or similar facilities.