THE Scottish Trades Union Congress is facing renewed criticism over the scale of its funding from the SNP Government.

Official accounts show the Government provided around 63% of the STUC’s income in 2018, up from the previous year.

Scottish Tory MSP Bill Bowman said: “This shows that the STUC is becoming ever more reliant on Scottish Government funding.

“Questions over a conflict of interest will arise yet again, as with this level of funding there is a clear motive for the STUC to keep the SNP Government on side."

The STUC, founded in 1897, represents the interests of members of dozens of trade unions. Led by general secretary Grahame Smith, the organisation meets in Dundee tomorrow for its annual three day gathering.

Although the STUC has had a sizeable impact on Scottish politics over the decades, some figures in the trade union movement believe the umbrella body is too close to the Scottish Government.

As revealed last year by the Herald on Sunday, the STUC and its training arm had a combined income of £4.3m in 2017, of which less than 25% came from union affiliation fees.

A much bigger part of the total, £2.3m, was provided by the SNP Government for skills and lifelong learning initiatives.

In the same year, the STUC received £324,440 from the Government for the “Union Modernisation Fund”. The Government funds came to around 61.5% of the body’s total income.

Accounts obtained by this newspaper show that the proportion of STUC funds provided by the Government rose in 2018.

The “education and training” funding increased from £2.3m to £2.5m, while the modernisation cash jumped to £347,943.

The £2.8m does not include a £730,000 Scottish Government grant to the Clyde Gateway regeneration body, which will help fund the STUC’s new headquarters in Glasgow.

The funding row comes days after it emerged that the STUC had been ordered to pay almost £17,000 in compensation to a former worker who, a tribunal ruled, had been unfairly dismissed and victimised.

Zaffir Hakim was awarded the sum after Smith was branded “not credible” by the judges who heard the case.

Smith has also faced internal unrest within the trade union world over the number of paid posts he has accepted in the public sector.

A spokesperson for the STUC said: “This funding support the learning and development of workers. It can only be used on activity that is clearly defined with the government. Without this funding the other work done by the STUC and unions would continue but thousand of workers would be denied the opportunity of personal and professional development.

“Our professional auditors are obliged to draw to our attention to any concerns they have about any aspect of our finances, including the sources of our income and the use to which it is put. Once again they have issued an unqualified opinion on our accounts.”