Union officials save South Tyneside health services £300,000 a year, figures show

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The work of shop stewards saves NHS services in South Tyneside £300,000 a year, new figures claim.

With the Government’s controversial new Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has highlighted the paid time off union officials at health trusts are given and how much they save each trust through their work.

Sarah Dodsworth, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing northern region

Sarah Dodsworth, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing northern region

The RCN estimates that the work of officials creates potential savings of £299,346 for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust each year.

The organisation argue that the new bill would see the time off given to union representatives to carry out their duties limited.

Sarah Dodsworth, regional director of the RCN northern region, said: “Much of the attention on the proposed Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament has so far focussed on plans to crack down on strike action.

“But within this legislation lies a potentially more damaging proposal which could seriously affect our health service.

The bill will not save public sector money. Quite the opposite.

Sarah Dodsworth, regional director of the RCN northern region

“So-called “facility time” – the paid time-off given to union representatives to carry out their duties – would be limited and monitored under the proposals as part of a simplistic view that this would save money without considering the benefits.

Ms Dodsworth added: “Capping the amount of facility time available to union representatives will have a detrimental effect on staff turnover and productivity.

“The bill will not save public sector money.”

No-one from the health trust was available for comment.