Tuesday 10 November 2009

"An attack on one is an attack on all"

Did that used to be a trade union principle?

My excellent, estimable and on the ball Deputy, Dr Kyle, has written to the Unite Union Officer responsible for their third sector membership. I thought it deserved wider dissemination so I reproduce it here ;

"I see from public records that Derek Simpson earns £97,027, with pension contributions of £26,779 and other benefits of £62,820. A total package of £186,626.

Tony Woodley earns £93,815, with pension contributions of £16,347, and other benefits of £11,946. A total package of £122,108.

That is a total of £308,374 Unite spends on the CEO equivalent position - or to use the index you set this morning in The Guardian, 26 times the salary one of your members on minimum wage."

Your organisation represents millions of members and operates in a complex political and policy environment, you need great leadership and rightly pay the right amount to attract the quality you need. If called upon, ACEVO would defend Unite's remuneration package upon these grounds. This makes it all the stranger that you have chosen to openly attack charity CEOs', who's average wage is £57k - it is rare to earn more and where it does it reflects the kinds of challenges and complexities that your organisation faces.

ACEVO has invested significant amounts of charitable money in building relations between unions and charity CEOs' in the last year, and has a number of ongoing work flows that could further break down the significant barriers that unions face in extending its extremely poor representation within the third sector workforce. I would have thought you would look kindly upon this kind of activity. So I'm deeply confused by your actions today. I hope you can take a little time to let me know why you thought this attack would be of benefit to anyone, particularly the vast numbers of people who look to both unions and third sector organisations in this time of greatest need."

Sums it up really. And I used similar sentiments when I spoke to The Independent who are running a story on this. I guess the upside of this story is it does give us a chance to put the case for professional pay in our sector. The attitude of the unions reflects the attitudes we found when we conducted our survey of the public over the summer. A modern enterprising sector delivering services and advocating on behalf of communities needs strong leaders. And they need to be paid professionally. That must be part of the role of the Impact Coalition. We meet this week to brainstorm ideas for a campaign.

And for light relief from all this aggravation and annoyance I spent the evening watching the latest Harry Potter. Great. Especially the parts filmed in my old College. And perhaps hints on a few potions to cheer up crabby Union General Secretaries?

Fabulous news this morning on Debbie Scott - soon to be Baroness Scott! David Cameron has asked Debbie, the CEO of Tomorrow's People, to become a Conservative Peer. Debbie has been a long standing and active member of ACEVO. She is a doughty fighter for unemployed people and also great fun. I loved her quote when she said "I've always seen my job as helping people to focus on their destiny not their history".

I ring to congratulate her. She momentarily phased when I ask her on her mobile "Is that Baroness Scott"!

She will be joining Lord David Freud, another key ACEVO ally, in developing Conservative policy on welfare to work. Great!


Jonathan Sillett said...

Ill-advised as Unite's comments may have been, the Guardian article did in fact state:

She [Maskell] stressed that the union's fire was aimed at the "excessive few" and not at the majority of charities, whose chief executives earn on average £57,000 annually, while those running smaller charities take home "a modest £33,000 a year".

So Dr Kyle's letter misses the point somewhat, which is that it is the excessive rather than the majority of salaries that Unite has the problem with.

Sir Stephen Bubb said...

Fair , but only to a point. They said quite clearly that an excessive City pay culture was pervading the sector . This is not simply untrue but offensive. And I simply do mot accept that these examples show " excessive salaries2 I know that in some of the examples qouted the CEO took a significant pay cut to join our sector . Inded 38% of acevo CEOs took pay cuts when they joined their prganisation . i am not prepared to argue we all adopt hair shirts and expect that , unlike the other 2 sectors we cannot pay peole to run significant businesses with skill and expertese a professional level of salary . i will be posting an excellent article by one of the sestors top accountants which makes the point more eloquently than me later today!!