Scargill wins pay deal - for himself

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The Independent Online
MINERS' leader Arthur Scargill has negotiated a unique inflation- proof salary deal - for himself, write Barrie Clement and Paul Routledge.

While his members are ballotted for a second time on possible strike action over a pay "freeze" in the privatised coal industry, the executive of the National Union of Mineworkers has agreed that in future his salary should be adjusted annually to reflect the rising cost of living.

The new arrangement will operate from 1 November and is likely to run until the NUM president's scheduled retirement in 2003. This year, his salary will rise by almost pounds 1,500.

The deal replaces a scheme, first put in place in 1977 by his predecessor, the late Lord Gormley, to link the pay of the union's top man to a fixed point in the managerial salary structure of the now-defunct National Coal Board.

Mr Scargill's salary, reported to the Government's certification officer two days ago, stands at pounds 55,330. His total pay package, including benefits, amounts to pounds 62,526. His union has fewer than 7,000 members working.

In the 10 years since the coal industry's Great Strike for Jobs of 1984/85, Mr Scargill, 57, has been unable to agree across-the-board pay rises for his members, chiefly due to his union's refusal to sit down and negotiate alongside the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers.

Mr Scargill's critics argue that his pay packet is unconscionably high given that the NUM posted a pounds 380,603 deficit last year. Others contend that unions cannot be seen to be reducing officials' salaries while arguing for increases for their members.

The NUM is currently reballoting 4,000 miners employed by RJB Mining who have been asked to endorse strike action over a three-year freeze on their basic pay rates. The first vote was abandoned when it was declared null and void by the High Court.