Britain's largest trade union, Unite, is facing a "golden goodbye" pay row after its former leader Derek Simpson was paid more than £500,000 last year, including a £361,000 severance payment. Simpson received £510,659, the bulk comprising of £361,347 in severance pay. He also received £97,677 in gross salary, and more than £51,000 in housing benefit and car allowances.
Simpson's colleague and joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, did not receive a payoff and was paid a total of £136,289. He is still employed by Unite on £20,000 a year.
Simpson and Woodley's successor, Len McCluskey, said he was shocked by the payment. But he stressed that Simpson's payoff was drawn up under the financial system used by the Amicus union, which merged with the T&G in 2007 to form Unite. McCluskey said there would be no similar payments under his regime, but the union was powerless to intervene in Simpson's case. "It is inappropriate but there is little that I can do about it. There will be no such agreements in Unite going forward."
According to Unite's annual return for 2010, the union generated an income of £141.6m last year but spent £171.9m, pushing the union into a deficit of £30.2m.