23/09/2011 - Establishment Union Fat Cats get the cream

IN JULY of last year in a piece entitled Nice Work if you can get it... Solidarity took a look at the very comfortable living that the heads of the establishment unions were making and compared it to the lot of their ordinary members, many of whom were struggling with the effects of the economic crisis.

A source of information for that article was the “Trade Union Rich List” produced by researchers at the TaxPayers’ Alliance.  In June of this year the TPA again produced a list of the highest paid union leaders in Britain and listed their pay and perks for 2009-10 and this month they updated it with the latest figures for 2010-11. While those on the left may accuse the TPA of being pro-Tory or otherwise of a right-wing bias, the facts that they present in their report are based on the unions’ own returns to the Certification Officer.  So let’s take a look at who gets what in the cushy world of the establishment unions.

It’s nice to see people getting on in the world and since we last reported on the pay received by Bob Crow of the RMT (based on 2008-2009 figures), Bob has seen his pay and perks total rise from £105,679 to £123,833 today.  We wouldn’t like to see Bob stuck for the price of a round at the annual RMT garden party for Cuba, after all would we?  Dave Prentis of Unison has seen a more modest increase in his pay packet during the same period from £127,436 to £131,496.  A big earner in 2010-2011 was the former Communist Party member and now former joint-leader of Unite, Derek Simpson, who pocketed a whopping £510,659, including £361,347 in severance pay.

Another interesting item of the TPA report is the subsidies given to establishment unions from public funds.  In the period 2009-10 they received what the TPA describes as “direct payments from public sector organisations” totalling £18.3 million plus a further £67.5 million in “staff time”, presumably time when public sector employees are engaged in union business but are still being paid as if they were doing their jobs.  Solidarity reported on the government’s Union Modernisation Fund in June of last year, which was seen by some as a conduit for the previous Nu Labour government to ‘round-trip’ taxpayers’ money into its own election funds.  Yet again the independence of the big unions is called into question by the information contained in the TPA report.  Is it any wonder that Solidarity refers to them as the establishment unions? 

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