Lobby of Portsmouth city council on Tuesday in union r...

Lobby of Portsmouth city council on Tuesday in union representation row

10 February 2017

A protest against Tory-controlled Portsmouth city council, which appears ‘hell-bent’ on worsening industrial relations by slashing the funding for trade union reps, will be staged outside the Guildhall on Tuesday 14 February.

Unite, the country’s largest union, as well the GMB and Unison, will be lobbying councillors from 13.30 on Tuesday as they arrive for the full council meeting at the Guildhall, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth PO1 2AB.

The unions, which represent the 3,600-strong workforce, are angry at a policy, being driven by the council leader Cllr. Donna Jones, to halve the budget for ‘facility time’ which funds trade union reps to provide representation to workers, smooth out the disciplinary process and avert possible escalations into an industrial dispute.

The unions are planning on presenting Cllr. Jones with a huge Valentine’s card on Tuesday at the council meeting. It will have ‘I ♥ unions’ on the front and will be filled with messages from union members.

The unions want the councillors to restore the proposed cut to the facility time budget, as it is a very cost-effective way of maintaining good industrial relations.

The row has been fuelled by Donna Jones’ claim that facility time was ‘a luxury’, despite the fact she hired her own policy and strategy advisor at a salary of £42,000-a-year.

Unite regional officer Richard White said: “We are calling on the full council to restore the facility time budget which is shared between three trade unions: Unite, GMB and Unison.

“Seconded union representatives are employees elected by the workforce and released from their main job to undertake statutory trade union duties to maintain fair staff management processes.

“Donna Jones has adopted a confrontational approach which is not the best way to motivate a dedicated workforce endeavouring to provide much needed frontline services at a challenging time of financial austerity.

“We are urging all those concerned about the misguided direction of travel by the city council to join the lobby on Tuesday and show councillors that trade union reps underpin the smooth running of the council.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite regional officer Richard White on 07808 322005 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940 Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.