EXCL Unite paying two general secretary salaries after Len McCluskey's resignation

Posted On: 
7th December 2016

Unite will be paying TWO general secretary salaries for the next five months as a result of Len McCluskey's decision to quit as the union's boss.

Len McCluskey has resigned as general secretary of Unite, but will stay in post until April
Credit: 
PA Images

Mr McCluskey tendered his resignation yesterday, triggering an early general secretary election in which he will be a candidate.

Unite's executive committee agreed that the left-wing veteran could stay in his post until 28 April, when the election result will be announced.

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But the union also announced that Gail Cartmail, one of Unite's assistant general secretaries, will become acting general secretary over the same period.

Union sources have confirmed that both Mr McCluskey and Ms Cartmail will receive full general secretary salaries throughout.

In 2015, Mr McCluskey's total pay package was £96,000, significantly less than the £133,000 he received the year before. That was because he reached 65 and began drawing his Unite pension on top of his wages. 

A union spokeswoman said: "The acting general secretary will receive a temporary uprate in salary, in line with union policy for all employees taking on additional responsibilities."

Ironically, the official reason given for Mr McCluskey's resignation was that it would save the union money.

In a statement, Unite said: "This will ensure that the ballot for executive council members and the ballot for general secretary are conducted simultaneously, minimising the enormous costs caused to the union by the legal requirement to conduct the ballot by post and not by modern voting methods, thereby saving the union in the region of £1 million."

Meanwhile, Gerard Coyne, Unite's general secretary in the West Midlands, is expected to formally announce this week that he will challenge Mr McCluskey.

He has the backing of moderate figures within the union and the Labour party, which relies on Unite for much of its funding.

One senior Labour source said the defeat of Mr McCluskey would be a "game changer".

"Deposing Len as general secretary would give us a chance of winning the next election," said the insider.

"At a stroke it would remove Unite's support for Jeremy, leaving him vulnerable if there was another coup. The stakes are huge."