Conservative county: We pay union officials

SUFFOLK: Just days after Ipswich Tory MP Ben Gummer launched a broadside against the Labour-run borough for paying �20,000 for a trade union office, it has emerged that the Conservative-led county pays the salaries of four full-time union officials.

Deputy leader at Endeavour House Jane Storey said that for a large organisation like the county council, which has thousands of employees, it was very valuable to have easy lines of communication with union officials.

She said: “There are four union officials that are paid – there are 20 or 30 union reps across the organisation but of course most of them are unpaid and doing that in their spare time.

“I am chairman of the staff partnership board and it is good to have a close relationship to iron out any issues before they become major problems.”

Labour group leader at the county Sandy Martin insisted paying union officials made economic sense: “By involving the unions at an early stage you ensure that issues don’t blow up on your face which could ultimately be much more expensive.”

However Mr Gummer was unrepentant.

He said: “I have nothing against trade union representation, but the union reps should be paid for from the subscriptions of union members, not from council taxpayers.

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“There is also the issue that these unions are effectively being subsidised by the public which allows them to make donations to the Labour Party.

“And many of those who are subsidising them through their council tax bills are not Labour supporters.”

n Should councils pay union officials? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail