Conservatives call for Union Modernisation Fund to be scrapped

The Conservative Party has again called on the government to scrap the controversial Union Modernisation Fund.

Prime minister Gordon Brown handed out a further £2.8m to unions at the TUC Congress earlier this week.

The £10m fund was set up two years ago to help trade unions adapt to a changing labour market and modern workplaces, and to provide examples of best practice for other unions to follow.

However, the Consrevatives said the money was being used to keep trade unions ‘sweet’ and pointed to the actions of the unions benefiting from the extra cash.

For example, funding was given to the Public and Commercial Services Union – whose members are voting on whether to launch a mass strike across the Civil Service, and two grants were made to the Communication Workers Union – which has threatened a wave of strikes as part of a dispute with Royal Mail.

Alan Duncan, shadow business secretary, called on the prime minister to cease all payments immediately.

“If Gordon Brown is serious about standing up to the unions, he should cut the spin and scrap this subsidy before any more taxpayers’ cash is wasted,” he said.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the EEF, said although the employers’ body had initial reservations about the fund, its concerns had been addressed by the government.

But if the Tories wanted to scrap the fund, employers wouldn’t stand in their way, he added.

Last year a first round of £3m was awarded to 35 projects.