I have now signed a contract with the PCS and have become an employee of the union from 1 July. As such I am entitled to a salary of £69,466 a year (£5,788 a month).
As part of my election platform, though, I promised not to take the full AGS salary but only take home the wage of a DWP Executive Officer (EO) working in London.
EO is the most common grade in the Civil Service; DWP is the biggest part of the Service, and I work in London. Therefore it seems to me that the EO salary is a representative wage of members in the union. Further, in my opinion it is a worker’s wage.
I asked the union only to be paid this, but PCS stated that I had to take the full money. Therefore I am donating the difference between the AGS net pay and EO net pay to the fighting fund.
According to tax calculators having a gross monthly salary of £5,788 should mean earning £4,069 net.
DWP London EO salary is £30,303. According to the same calculators this leaves £2,012 net. Therefore I will be giving back £2,057 a month to the PCS, £24,684 a year.
To put this into context, the recent week long strike by BEIS cleaners/catering staff cost the union approx £20,000 in strike pay.
I have opted out of the PCS pension fund. If I am not taking the full wage, it seemed wrong to me to get the indirect benefit of the full salary through the pension scheme.
I have decades of reckonable service in a Civil Service pension so I am lucky compared to most. I can well understand therefore someone with much less pension service opting into the PCS pension scheme.
It is my intention to publish my end of July wage slip and my standing order to the Fighting Fund, so proving that I have fulfilled my pledge. I will ensure that in the annual accounts, my contribution to the FF is shown (rank does have some privileges).
I must stress that my stance on the AGS wage is not that of a hair-shirt moralist. It is political. During the five years of my contract, my take home will only increase in line with that of DWP London EOs. Poor pay awards will hit me in the same way as members.
Therefore there will be a real organic link between my material well being and that of members.
So at least in the pay sense, I can say I am one with the members and have no separate material interest to them.