Over £64,000 was paid to Scottish Borders Council staff to carry out trade union work according to a response to a Freedom of Information request.
MSP John Lamont has called for council money to be spent more prudently. “Recent times have seen increasing pressures exerted on council budgets,” he said. “We have to make sure that we get the best value for money from each pound we receive in taxes, but instead we are currently spending tens of thousands on paying individuals for non-council work.
“Many people will be shocked to hear that so much of our council tax is going towards paying people for doing tasks for trade unions. I can see no good reason why Borders taxpayers should have to shoulder the costs for their staff.
“When the amount of money being spent on facility time is so high there is no doubt in my mind that these arrangements need to be looked at.”
“In the current financial climate Borders residents expect their taxes to be spent on improving local services and facilities, not supporting trade unions.”
Scottish Borders Council responded: “Scottish Borders Council operates within a collective bargaining framework at both a national and local level. As such we are legally obliged, under employment legislation, to consult and negotiate with the trades unions who are recognised under the appropriate agreements.
“The trades unions representatives carry out their union duties as employees of the council and we release them from duties as and when they are required to carry out their consultation and negotiation roles. This system enables the council to meet its legal obligations and promotes a positive industrial relations climate.”