NUM branch with 4 members pays £80k per year to top officials

Revealed: how NUM pays officials bumper salaries as membership and assets dwindle

By Nick Fielding | 8 January 2013

NUM branch with 4 members pays £80k per year to top officialsDerbyshire’s branch of the National Union of Mineworkers gave two top officials annual pay packages of more than £80,000 each despite having only four members.

Exaro has established that the once-mighty NUM is paying several officials bumper salaries as membership dwindles, while reserves worth millions of pounds are being spent on “administrative expenses”.

Filings with the Certification Office, which regulates trade unions in the UK, reveal how the NUM has been reduced to a rump that spends little on services for members.

Membership has slumped to 1,855 people. With further job losses on the way, this number will fall even further.

The union, which includes a federation of regional branches, recruits from only seven of the UK’s coal mines. Most of its members work at three pits in Yorkshire.

The NUM’s Derbyshire area, for example, has only four members, according to its latest filings. The annual return reveals that it spent nothing on “benefits to members” in 2011, but received what is shown as £294 reimbursement for representation on employment-related issues. There are no deep mines left in Derbyshire.

The Derbyshire NUM’s general secretary, Austin Fairest, was paid £85,621 in 2011, which comprised basic salary of £36,241, pension contributions of £38,380, and £11,000 towards the purchase of a car.

The area’s president, Alan Gascoyne, received £82,887 – £56,869 in basic salary, £15,000 for his pension, and £11,018 towards a car purchase.

And the former Derbyshire area secretary, Gordon Butler, described as an “area consultant” in the union’s return, received £48,108 – £39,708 as basic salary and £8,400 towards a car purchase.

The pay packages for the three leading officials total £216,616 – or £54,154 per union member.

Administrative expenses for the year at the Chesterfield-based branch were £300,227.

But the NUM’s Derbyshire area had “investment income” of £70,679; “surplus on realisation of investments” totalling £104,561; while “knee litigation insurance claim” brought in £100,000.

The branch’s assets were valued in the accounts at close to £1.5 million. No one from the branch was available to comment.

The NUM Northumberland area recorded 240 members. But none is a working miner, according to the area’s general secretary, Denis Murphy.

The branch paid him a salary package of £43,447 in 2011, while two members of its “executive committee” received more than £10,500 each, according to its latest filings.

The branch’s return says that £19,057 towards his salary was paid by an unidentified party – probably a reference to the national NUM.

It also paid £30,000 “redundancy” for what is described as a “past general secretary”.

Administrative expenses were £223,457. The Northumberland area ran a deficit of more than £209,000 in 2011, leaving less than £163,000 in its “general fund”.

There are no deep mines left in Northumberland. The NUM traditionally represents only miners who work in deep mines.

The annual return shows that the branch spent nothing in 2011 on “benefits to members”, such as representing miners in employment or non-employment issues, advisory services, dispute benefits, education and training services.

Murphy admitted that the union was running down its activities. “We do a lot of welfare-rights work, help to run a housing association and also a convalescent home.

“The truth is that in two or three years there will be no funds left, and we shall have to resort to a voluntary system. At present, I am the only full-timer, with two other part-time, welfare-rights workers.”

The NUM’s Leicester branch also has no working pits in its area, but recorded 101 members, mostly recruited from the threatened Daw Mill colliery outside the county in neighbouring Warwickshire.

The branch paid its general secretary, Peter Smith, a total package of £37,420 in 2011, including pension contributions of £4,390.

Asked what he did in his job, Smith slammed down the telephone.

It spent £3,000 on “benefits to members”, and has £541,181 left in its general fund.

Meanwhile, the NUM Yorkshire Area Trust Fund, based at the same office as the national union in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, had a fund at the end of 2011 of more than £12 million, up nearly £400,000 on the year.

It paid “remuneration and expenses” to staff of £170,720.

The NUM’s general secretary, Chris Kitchen, told Exaro that he recognised that the union was in decline.

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