TaxPayers' Alliance reveals Public Sector Trade Union Rich List

Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 9th September

With TUC Congress in full swing, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) has today revealed that the average remuneration of the 30 union bosses on more than £100,000 was £144,168 in 2018. This is an increase of £12,970 from the previous year.

Union top bosses weren't the only ones enjoying generous pay packets. Public sector trade union officials were paid at least £85.9 million for trade union facility time duties. Facility time is paid time off during working hours for trade union representatives to carry out union duties. Taxpayer-funded support is also given in other ways, with direct grants given by government departments, police forces, NHS trusts and councils to trade unions.

Unions which cause misery for commuters, such as the frequently on strike RMT, receive substantially more each year in direct taxpayer subsidy. In 2017/18 net government support to the rail industry was £6.4 billion.

Click here to read the research paper.

Key findings

  • The average remuneration of the 30 union bosses on more than £100,000 was £144,168. This is an increase of £12,970 from the previous year.

  • Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, received £167,604 in total remuneration. Her gross salary puts her firmly in the top 3 per cent of earners.

  • The trade union with the most senior officers earning more than £100,000 in 2018 was once again the Fire Brigades Union, with 4 staff members still earning above the threshold. This is in spite of membership of the Fire Brigades Union falling by almost 21 per cent between 2011 and 2016 (the most recent figures available).

  • The highest-paid public sector trade union bosses were the joint general secretaries of the National Education Union, Kevin Courtney and Dr. Mary Bousted, who received £217,501 and £187,557. This higher figure included a salary of £170,269, employers’ national insurance contribution of £21,968, and a pension contribution of £25,264.

  • Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair and general secretary of the British Medical Association, received £193,445 in total remuneration, over 7 times what a foundation (FY1) doctor working in the NHS receives: £27,146.

  • 4 senior staff at the railway unions (ASLEF, RMT and TSSA) share £514,900 between them.

  • 8 senior staff at the education unions share £1,349,492 between them.

Click here to read the research paper.

Duncan Simpson, Research Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

"Taxpayers are tired of these red barons, taking home massive taxpayer-backed salaries while playing class warriors against prosperity. They are hypocrites of the highest order, earning many times as much as the workers they claim to represent, all while criticising high pay elsewhere.

"Instead of cosying up to their union comrades, politicians should be taking a stand against militant unions who want to rip off taxpayers for every penny they can get by calling for devastating tax hikes and spending surges we simply can't afford."


TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

Media contact:

James Roberts

Political Director, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at

  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.

  3. The TaxPayers' Alliance recently published the Freedom Factbook showing how free markets have created more prosperous societies.
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