As you will be aware, the practice, known as ‘facility time’ is when an employee takes time off from their normal role to carry out duties and activities as a trade union representative. On 8 October 2020, LBC reported: ‘In Boris Johnson's last year as London’s Mayor, TfL spent £4.4m, or 0.23% of its total wage bill on facility time. That body’s latest accounts show that figure is now £8.7m, or 0.4% of the wage bill.’1 The entire Home Civil Service spends just £10m on facility time. So just over £1m more than TfL, in spite of the fact that it has more than 400,000 staff, to TfL's 27,000. TfL's cost is also around five times higher than the Government's recommended spend for public sector organisations, which is based on the average cost of facility time in the Home Civil Service. Whilst I strongly support the principle of effective labour relations in the workplace, I am concerned by this disparity and would be grateful for an explanation of the reasons behind it.
Transport for London (TfL) values the constructive relationship it has with the trade unions and recognise the important role they play in representing the workforce. In line with relevant legislation and its own agreements, recognised trade union representatives are permitted reasonable time off during normal working hours to carry out trade union duties. This time accounts for just 0.4 per cent of TfL total wage bill over the last year.
TfL has undertaken several major organisational restructuring programmes in recent years and in line with its commitment to meaningful consultation and constructive engagement, appropriate time off was provided in order for trade unions to representative our staff.
Since I became Mayor, there has been a 76 per cent reduction in the number of days lost to strike action, and TfL remain committed to engaging in constructive dialogue with the trade unions.