Should taxpayers foot the bill for EP unions?
Seven trade unions represent 6,500 staff in the European Parliament - at one union per thousand workers, it is too much - claims John Bufton MEP
It has emerged that a number of unions representing European Parliament staff are being run by civil servants on secondment - receiving full pay and benefits, funded by the taxpayer. The 40,000 strong workforce in Brussels is represented by various specific trade unions, many calling for strike action against European Commission proposals to cut administrative costs.
In the EP, seven separate trade unions represent around 6,500 staff - amounting to one union per thousand workers. What's more, an operational framework drawn up by the parliament's Staff Committee allows them office space, technology, telephones, computers and seconded full time staff to run the activities, all paid for out of European Union coffers.
It is a disgrace that the taxpayer funds these unions to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds in wages and equipment, then the same organiations see it as their duty to protect the rights of extremely generous Eurocrat privileges. While I believe unions are the foundations of a free and democratic society, the idea that Eurocrats cannot find the cash to fund their unions themselves - and need the taxpayer to pick up the bill - is an insult.
I come from a history of active unionism and believe strongly in the right of workers to come together to fight for better wages and conditions. But I also believe that to function well, a union must pull together honestly in total transparent. Fleecing the taxpayer totally undermines what these collectives are supposed to be all about. I am writing to the Secretary General of the parliament to demand that the framework agreement with the unions be revised.
With the rise of the Euro Pèlerin, there are a number of pilgrims in the European Institutions. And they are not there searching for God. There has been a great deal of interest in recent months, in the UK, about the existence of full-time trade union officials who are nominally working in a public sector job. They have been the subjects of a series of articles in the press and have become known as pilgrims, after one example a woman called Jane Pilgrim.
The coverage has resulted in an early day motion in the House of Commons - EDM 1799 - which states: "That this house notes the existence of full time trades union officials whose salaries are paid by the taxpayer; further notes that these have been nicknamed "pilgrims" by the media as a reference to Jane Pilgrim from UNISON who attacked the government whilst claiming to be a nurse, it was subsequently shown that she didn't practise but instead claimed an NHS salary to work for the union; believes that this practise is deplorable."
Unions in the EP are governed by a framework agreement - written in 1990, and still standing. This agreement states that: each organisation winning at least 15 per cent of the seats at the Staff Committee since the two last elections, shall gain profit within the limit from the possibilities available and for its linked activities to the present agreement; the part time services of a civil servant or otherwise if an agreement with his unit; an office for each in Luxembourg and an office used jointly in Brussels and Strasbourg; an organisation winning at least 5 per cent of the seats at the Staff Committee lays out an office in Luxembourg; an organisation winning more than 50 per cent of the seats at the Staff Committee will have the double of the means envisaged. This type of subsidy does nobody any favours. It destroys the credibility of the unions and at the same time adds extra burdens on the taxpayers. It must stop.
John Bufton is a UK Independence Party MEP in Wales
No, we should not. We should not fund any workers' union and especially one for a bunch of people who not only live in another country, but also work for a foreign regime which wants more and more of our money too spend on their pet projects.
It is well overdue the time when the people have their say on how their money is spent. Cameron and co. take note
J Bush - England