I don’t know why, but it took a lot to wake me up today.
However, armed with a large mug of fresh coffee and a cigarette and the ‘Andrew Marr Show’ on BBC1, I gradually came to…
I turned on part way through Marr interviewing Bob Crow of the RMT. Crow’s currently considered newsworthy because of the proposed tube strikes and what he said certainly helped to wake me up.
When it comes to a basic grasp of maths, Crow seems to be totally paddleless and as far up Shit Creek as it’s possible to get without being on dry land because he seems to be trying to make some sort of attempt to equate the amount the present government wants to cut public services by with that given to bankers as bonuses.
This is errant nonsense.
Compared to the billions we have to save somewhere if we’re not to become a debtor nation for the next century at least, the millions given to bankers as bonuses is fucking flea dirt.
Of course, the bankers make very convenient whipping boys and to a large extent this may be justified, but public greed and ignorance also played its part in turning the UK into a nation that borrowed vast amounts of money with little thought for the consequences.
No-one forced people to borrow money.
Crow also went on to bleat about the ‘unfairness’ of UK society in light of the proposed public service cuts – in particular citing pay freezes as an example of this unfairness. Here, shoddy maths gave way completely to a hypocrisy bordering on the simply fucking shameless.
One of the best traits to have in any leader is that he tries to lead by example, so how does Crow fare at this…and is he being fair?
According to this, Crow’s income for 2008-9 was as follows:
Bob Crow (RMT) – £79,564 in salary, £26,115 in pension contributions, £13,013 expenses
That’s a cool £120K – less the cost of a few dodgily-patterned short-sleeved shirts, of course.
However, with his members and those of other public services possibly facing at best a pay freeze and at worst a pay cut, Crow is, of course, not taking a pay rise, is he?
Especially as his hard-pressed members are paying for it.
Well, think the fuck again…
He’s getting a pay rise of 12% which makes him about £13K a year better off.
Regardless of one’s viewpoint on trades unions – and I’m in favour of them when they guard the basic rights of employees and curb some of the excesses of employers when necessary – there’s no disputing that Crow heads a very large organization and I’m sure it involves a lot of hard work. Yes, it’s right that he’s paid accordingly, but what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and bankers, quite rightly, see their remuneration packages as being a just return for their skills, work and level of responsibility.
Of course, there’s no comparison between Crow’s £130K+ and the bankers’ millions, but the principle of a negotiated wage taking into account the ability of a worker to do a certain job well is really no different.
OK, I can’t imagine what it would be like to get a bonus of a million quid, but it’s equally difficult to think what it would be like to make £130K a year – and most of Crow’s members, I’m sure, would find it so.
But it’s not just Crow who rides the trades union gravy train. After the figures I quoted above for Crow the following appear:
John Hannett (USDAW) – £81,742 salary, £16,389 pension contributions
Billy Hayes (CWU) – £83,530 salary, £14,190 pension contributions
Sally Hunt (UCU) – £63,743 salary, £7,612 pension contributions, £2705 car benefit (start of June 2006 to end of May 2007)
Paul Kenny (GMB) – £81,000 salary, £21,000 superannuation (pension contributions), £8,000 car
Dave Prentis (Unison) – £92,187 salary, £23,603 pension contributions, £11,646 expenses and car benefit
Derek Simpson (Unite-Amicus) – £62,673 salary, £16,156 pension contributions, £13,333 car allowance, £26,181 housing benefit
Mark Serwotka (PCS) – £82,094 salary, £26,104 pensions contributions, £2,245 additional housing cost allowance and additional housing cost supplement
Steve Sinnott (NUT) – £99,846 salary, £23,963 pension contributions
Tony Woodley (Unite-TGWU) – £59,333 salary, £9,552 pension contributions, car fuel £3,360
Matt Wrack (FBU) – £66,389 salary, £44,281 pension contributions, £5,134 car
Not just Bob then.
Factor in all the other paid officials in these unions – as well as the leaders and officials in all the others – and you’d end up with a list that might not be quite so alarming as that of our MPs during the expenses scandal but still might give one pause for thought.
And at least the MPs didn’t bang on about fairness all the fucking time. Joe Soap always knew that our politicians were a bunch of fucking crooks and troughers, but surely our union leaders were different?
Not that all our union leaders are like the above. From the same article that this list came from I read this:
The exception to this miserable spectacle seems to be Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack, who after his election in 2005 fulfilled his election pledge to accept only something like a fire fighter’s wage by reducing his take home pay to what it would be if his salary was £40,000 and contributing the rest to a special union fund (information from official statement, September 2005) – giving him something like £29,000 take home against a minimum £24,000 for a trained fire fighter in London.
Contrast this with the likes of Derek Simpson of Unite– a name not unknown to this blogger – who manages to outdo the other union leaders:
According to the Times (17/01/09), Derek Simpson now receives nearly £200,000 in pay and benefits, with his pay package increasing 17 percent this year. He also has the right to stay in his £800,000 house in Hertfordshire until he dies, after which his partner will be able to remain there at a heavily subsidised rate.
Simpson, according the Times, demanded that the union subsidise his accommodation to “make it affordable” – a perk worth about £40,000, bringing his total remuneration to £194,252.
Since all these figures and those of our MPs are a matter of public record, I’m forced to conclude that the public’s perception of union leaders and politicians is highly biased as I see very little difference between the excesses of either of these groups.
Should my opinion regarding the biased nature of public perception be questioned then one only needs to contrast the public’s reaction to MPs expenses claims – vocal, unremitting and overwhelmingly disapproving – with its reaction to the excesses of many union leaders – non-existent.
And the source of this bias?
Well, 13 years of wall to wall Labour governments may well account for this, but the media has much blame to shoulder too.
Revelations only happen when the media smells ‘a good story’ and only with such publicity do changes get to be called for by the public. Most of the time if it doesn’t make the headlines it just ticks along as before. For those with something to hide, no news really is good news.
So, what we need now – along with the current improved transparency of MPs’ pay and expenses and full details of bankers’ remuneration being made a matter of public record and both these now much improved – is a complete register of who earns what when the public purse foots the bill, either in whole or in part, or subscriptions are paid to a body set up to protect the interests of its members or represent them in any capacity.
Such payments would include all expenses, pension contributions, benefits such as healthcare schemes, subsidies and subsistence payments.
This would apply to all people employed by national and local government, political parties, unions, quangos, charities, public broadcasters and any other organization in receipt of any grant funded by national or local government or any other publicly subscribed or funded body.
All such information should then be made freely available online, in public libraries and at all the offices of any of the groups covered by this register.
This way, if you want to continue paying for things like Bob Crow’s garish short-sleeved shirts, at least you can’t plead ignorance when you find out where some of your £24K pa.median wage has been going and at least you can then make your mind up whether to carry on contributing to his wardrobe.
Likewise the rest of his ilk and anyone else we pay for.
We pay them – so let’s see exactly what we’re paying for…