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Clarifying what facility time is in the trade unions

I wish to clarify matters regarding trade union facility time, which your newspaper has declared "a cause for concern" without going to the effort of actually explaining what facility time is (News, September 28).

The trade union duties covered by facility time are actually rather mundane despite the hints of darker deeds, as promulgated by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

Facility time is the legal right to get "reasonable" time off work to do certain activities on behalf of their union, without having their pay docked.

These include negotiating with employers over pay and conditions; representing workers in grievance and disciplinary procedures; providing training; doing health and safety work, and attending training sessions to assist their duties.

There is no legal right for a union activist to get paid while he or she takes time off to vote in a strike ballot or attend a political rally.

And as well as the hypothetical cost of this time spent away from the desk, there is a notional benefit to the employer.


Assistant general secretary

NI committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions

Belfast Telegraph