Trade Union Rich List 2020: Teaching union bosses share £1m pay pot

Embargoed: 00:01 Monday 14 September 2020

As the TUC Congress begins today, the TaxPayers’ Alliance has revealed that the average remuneration of the top 29 public sector union bosses was £153,935 in 2019.

Education union bosses topped this year’s annual Public Sector Trade Union Rich List, with six senior staff sharing £1,296,869 between them.

Sally Hunt, former general secretary of the University and College Union, received £534,805, despite previously criticising university leaders for similar sized pay packets. The boss of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, was the second highest paid, taking home £211,286. Meanwhile, the Association of School and College Leaders head, Geoff Barton, earned £174,206, almost 7 times the starting salary of a new teacher.

The figures come after teaching unions opposed the reopening of schools, including the recent threat of strikes. Instead of industrial action, union leaders should be cutting back their salaries in the interests of parents and taxpayers.

Click here to read the research paper

Key Findings:

  • The average remuneration of the 29 union bosses on more than £100,000 was £153,935 in 2019.

  • The highest-paid public sector trade union boss was Sally Hunt, former general secretary of the University and College Union. She received £534,805 in total remuneration including £400,000 for “post employment payments”. This is in spite of her criticising university leaders for pay packets of a similar size on previous occasions. 

  • Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, received £166,461 in total remuneration. Her gross salary puts her firmly in the top three per cent of earners across the UK. 

  • In 2019, the public sector trade unions with the most senior staff on total remuneration more than £100,000 were the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) and the POA, with two each.

  • Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair and general secretary of the British Medical Association, received £193,414 in total remuneration. His salary alone (£171,000) was over 6 times what a foundation (FY1) doctor working in the NHS receives in 2020 (£28,243).

  • Six senior staff at the education unions share £1,296,869 between them. 

Click here to read the research paper


Duncan Simpson, research director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"In resisting the return to the classroom, during what is a testing time for parents, the teaching union barons are costing the country dear.

"Taxpayers have had enough lectures from loaded union leaders, claiming to represent the workers earning a fraction of their bumper pay packets.

"Hypocritical union heads should be making the same sacrifices as everyone else, cutting back these whacking great wages and contributing to the national effort against covid-19."

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

Media contact:

Harry Fone
Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
[email protected]
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)


Notes to editors:

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, 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 publishes the Public Sector Trade Union Rich List annually. Last year’s report showed that the average remuneration of the 30 union bosses on more than £100,000 was £144,168.

  4. According to the Department for Education, the minimum starting salary for a qualified teacher in 2020/21 will be £25,714 outside of London, rising to £32,157 in inner London. 

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