The TaxPayers’ Alliance reports that the trade unions had taxpayer subsidies of £108 million in 2012/13 – a fall of only five million on the previous year. This includes £85 million in paid staff time.

In terms of central government I suspect that the spending will have since fallen quite sharply due to the rules being tightened.

So far as local government is concerned there really should be more of a challenge from councillors over this unjustified spending.

According to the TPA:

“Birmingham City Council was the local authority with the highest number of staff working for trade unions with 69 full-time equivalent staff working on trade union business. The second-placed local authority was North Ayrshire Council with 45 full-time equivalent staff.”

Other councils spending a lot on this include Barking and Dagenham (12.5 full time equivalents), Coventry (18.07), Croydon (10.4), Dudley (16), Fife (16.43), Glasgow (16.5), Kirklees (12.82), Leeds (14.5), Leicester (19.7), Liverpool (13), Manchester (14), Nottingham (25.72), Swansea (10.2) and Wakefield (11.25).

Often, of course, these are just the same councils that are the most insistent that any reduction in Government grants means “inevitable” cuts in services – as there is no possible alternative way to save money.

Even those of us in opposition can still press for reductions. Those Labour councillors that are in the pay of the unions have a prejudicial interest and so are not able to vote on the matter at council meetings.

I have proposed the following motion which is to due be debated at our next Hammersmith and Fulham Council meeting:

“This Council recognises that for trade unions to be free and independent they should be financed by their members rather than the state.

Therefore this Council resolves that:

(1) While the Council should be flexible in allowing staff to spend time working for trade unions, Council staff will not be paid for any time they spend on trade union activity.

(2) The collection of membership subscriptions will be a matter for the trade unions themselves rather than something the Council is involved with via the payroll system.

(3) The Council should cease providing office accommodation to trade unions on Council premises at below market rents.”

In Hammersmith and Fulham the number of trade union officials whose salaries were paid by the Council Taxpayer fell from 7.8 in 2011/12 to 3.2 in 2012/13. But the figure should be nil – as it is for many other councils.