LETTER : Not such a great pay deal

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The Independent Online
UNDER the headline "Scargill wins pay deal - for himself" (6 August), your reporters Barrie Clement and Paul Routledge write: "Arthur Scargill has negotiated a unique inflation-proof salary deal - for himself."

There is nothing "unique" about the new salary agreement for NUM officials which is considerably worse than the "linked" arrangement (instituted by my predecessor, Lord Gormley) which tied officials' and staff members' salary increases to National Coal Board managerial grades - in the same way that members of Parliament tie their salaries to those of senior civil servants.

The current formula - which is subject to annual review - is consistent with my commitment to reducing costs and ensuring that our union breaks even. Indeed, had it not been for obstructive tactics by certain elements in Yorkshire, a Transfer of Engagements implemented in August 1994 would have gone through a year earlier and the union would as a consequence have recorded its fifth successive surplus, instead of the small deficit referred to in your article. The union is already back in surplus.

I also introduced second-class rail fares to replace first-class ones within a very short time of becoming national president of the NUM in 1982, and subsistence rates have remained unchanged for nearly five years. Clement and Routledge relateNUM officials' salaries to the number of NUM members employed by RJB Mining but they obviously did not consider it worthwhile to refer to the fact that its chief executive, Richard Budge, from day one of coal's privatisation has received a salary over six times higher than those of NUM officials (and that doesn't include share options).

A simple question put to me would have established that I have received no increase in pay since 1991, and have given a written instruction that I will not accept any increase until and unless my members receive an increase in their pay.

Arthur Scargill, President

National Union of Mineworkers, Barnsley, South Yorkshire