Is the figure apparently needed to hold NEC and GEC elections in 2015. And apparently an expense too far.
In their statement on the union website, the NEC majority claim the ‘NEC noted that there are no alternative options for reducing our expenditure (on elections) to the necessary level (our emphasis). All other areas are being cut by the maximum amount’.
Firstly, as with many of the leadership’s statements, important facts are withheld from members and activists. In this case, what is the necessary level? If elections costs were reduced to £300,000 could we have them? We are not told.
Also there is no context. If the projected income for the union in the year ahead – excluding the sale of HQ – is say, £20 million (we don’t know of course as members and activists are not being told these projections) then elections would only cost 3% of the budget. If the projected income was £25 million then they would cost about 2.5%. Of course if you throw in the proceeds from the sale of HQ then the percentage becomes even smaller.
We think elections are this easily affordable. We think the real reason for not having the elections is to do with the fear that the ‘wrong’ people will be elected; people who may not be so keen on a merger with Unite and/or other reasons.
Also as with many of the leadership’s statements, it is factually incorrect. They claim: ‘all other areas are being cut by the maximum amount’. Of course that is what they say but we don’t know. If we knew the true facts then we might judge that other areas could be cut further. Without the full picture we lack context for the statements. It is like doing a jigsaw puzzle; without the picture on the box to show you where pieces stand in relation to each other, you cannot complete the puzzle.
But the statement is incorrect as there are obviously two fast ways to cut expenditure. Between them, the General and Assistant Secretary costs us over £200,000 a year (when you add in pension and other costs to their salaries – Mark Serwotka alone earns over £90K in wages). They could both agree – permanently we hope, but temporarily at least until the crisis is over, to cut their wages to £50,000 a year. Thus saving the union a £100K or so.
Now £50K is much more than members on average earn and is a very comfortable living. So Chris and Mark will ‘suffer’ no hardship. If we had a full time officer wage structure where earnings were closer to that of members then we would save even more. Of course if we had that in place already then the financial crisis would not now be so pressing.
Then there is the costs of the elections. Naturally we are not given a breakdown of how the £600K figure was arrived at, but for the sake of this argument let’s say it is true. Presumably the GEC elections must be roughly half of the costs – £300K – after all we must be balloting members twice – once for the NEC and once for the Groups. We could of course align the NEC and GEC elections and send members one ballot pack rather than two.
Better still we don’t need to have postal elections for GEC voting. We could have workplace ballots or e-ballots (though we favour the former). The PCS has experimented with non-postal balloting in the past; we can do so now. Of course a different form of ballot would save much money. Unfortunately owning to the anti-Trade union law the NEC elections probably will have to be postal.
So we show above, without having to look at the books, two ways to save money. To repeat, in any case we can afford the elections; the real reason for the suspension is that the leadership don’t want the election. We say in reply, let the members have a vote!