Southwark Council pays for its employees union reps to have time off to undertake their duties properly. Holding an employer to account for H&S, fair treatment of members, etc. is a critical union function. Wage rates are set centrally.
Roughly1,500 union members work for Southwark Council:
The council funds union representatives by £142,901 FY14/15. Compared to the wage bill this seems good value.
It does beg the question who represents the other 3,000 council employees to the councils management. No staff council, employee consultative forum, or similar exists as many modern organisations have. I personally think it’s a shame the remaining 3,000 employees don’t have direct representation about the changes Southwark Council goes through. That the only choice they have is joining a union or not being represented.