GS PAY - AGREED or A GREED?
by Maynard Keynes
For those of you who may have missed it, according to the article below reprinted from PCS view July/August 2001, big-hearted Marek is giving loads of dosh back to the members by way of repayments from his salary to the Campaign Fund. But that's not the full story....
Mark's pay AGREED
PCS president Peter Donnellan and general secretary elect Mark Serwotka report on Mark's personal pay position, following national executive discussions
During the election held last year for a new general secretary one of the candidates (Mark Serwotka) stated in his election address he was opposed to drawing the full salary attached to the post. He said this was because he considered the salary to be too high, and that it should instead be more in line with the pay of PCS members, many of them relatively low pald.
As you all know, Mark won the election and started work as general secretary elect in February. Mark will be taking over full general secretary duties when Barry Reamsbottom retires, by no later than May 31 next year.
In recent months there have therefore been discussions between your national executive and Mark on the whole issue of his salary, in the light of his election pledge.
During those discussions it was explained to the national executive that. Mark's pledge not to accept the full salary reflected his view of the relationship between the general secretary and ordinary members of the union. He saw election to high office within PCS as a privilege. He therefore wanted to keep his salary as low as possible, commensurate with maintaining his standard of living as near as possible to his previous circumstances. Before the election he worked as an EQ visiting officer for the Benefits Agency in Sheffield, and if he is not re-elected as PCS general secretary in future (the next election is due in 2005), Mark will be returning to his previous job. Mark's position is that he sought election in order to help carry out a specific task - that of delivering, along with your national executive and PCS staff, key union policies on your behalf.
However, Mark's desire not to accept the full salary of the post did cause real concerns to your national executive and others. All candidates in the election had originally been required to say, as a condition of standing, that they accepted the terms and conditions of employment for the general secretary as determined by the NEC, and Mark had duly done so. In addition there was a concern about undermining the salary rate which had been negotiated between your national executive and the union representing PCS staff, the GMB. There were also concerns about the effect on the position of the unions five other senior full-time officials.
All these issues were debated by your national executive in some detail. As a result, your national executive eventually decided that Mark would be paid the full salary (currently £56,303 a year) of the general secretary post, rather than a lower rate, but that he would be allowed to donate back to the PCS an amount of his choosing.
Your national executive believes this arrangement protects the important principle of the negotiated rate for the post. Mark, for his part, has accepted that it will nonetheless allow him to fully meet the spirit of his election pledge.
Mark Serwotka adds
After I was elected as general secretary, I promised that, once the details had been finalised of my salary and other financial assistance from the union, I would want the information to be published. lam now honouring that promise.
As has now been agreed by your national executive, I am repaying a proportion of my salary each month to the union, My net monthly salary, after paying tax and insurance contributions; currently comes to around £3,200. Out of this, I am repaying £1,000 each month to the PCS Campaign Fund.
These donations will be shown in the union's annual Financial Report, which will be subject to external audit and will be available to all members.
I have also had to relocate my family from Sheffield to London, and this has obviously resulted in a very large (fivefold) increase in my housing costs. I will therefore be receiving an additional housing costs allowance from the union, and help with relocation expenses. In both cases these are fully in line with the normal arrangements for most PCS members.
So, what about this article in this issue of the View (cracking name - crackpot editorial board!) - does Marek need an advisor or what?
First, he's giving £1k back and surviving on a mere take-home pay of £2.2k - more than the vast majority of other PCS HQ full-timers; so much for the average PCS salary!
Secondly, let's look a little bit deeper, he's also receiving an additional housing costs allowance (AHCA), which he claims is fully in line with the normal arrangements for most PCS members. Hold on - Marek's move to London was voluntary, he chose to apply for the job and, therefore, if he was a serving civil servant, particularly in these days of delegated terms & conditions, he would not have been entitled to AHCA!
Thirdly, what exactly is this AHCA? We hear, and this is confirmed by Marek's own contribution to this eye-opening piece of journalism that his housing costs have increased fivefold (sic), that he flogged his four-bedroom house in a less than salubrious suburb (?) of Sheffield (provincial quiz - name two salubrious suburbs of Sheffield) for £40k, secured a pretty decent four-bedroomed property in a quite salubrious suburb of Croydon (Coulsden?) for £190k and, under the anodyne guise of AHCA, members are paying for the £150k additional mortgage!
Fourthly, this doesn't take an Einsteinian grasp of mathematics, but normal monthly payments on a £150k mortgage are, yes you've guessed it, about £1k!
So, contrary to all the grand promises about not accepting the salary for the job, Marek, like all those before him, has sneakily conformed with the old adage that the 'working-class should kiss his arse because he's got the GS job at last'.
Fifthly, all of this is without knowledge of what the article meant by 'help with relocation expenses'?
Sixthly, PCS's assistance in arranging for Mrs Serwotka's transfer to a Departmental job with the London Allowances and rate of pay will add to the burgeoning Serwotka household finances.
Throw in a cuddly toy and didn't he do well!
Hypocrisy comes in many forms, Marek's comes quickly.