Dave Prentis

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Dave Prentis
Dave Prentis.JPG
Prentis speaking at the Labour Party Conference in 2002
3rd General Secretary of UNISON
Assumed office
Preceded byRodney Bickerstaffe
Personal details
David Prentis

May 1948 (age 70)
Leeds, England
Alma mater

Dave Prentis (born 1948)[1][2] is a British trade unionist who is the current General Secretary of UNISON, the United Kingdom's largest trade union.[3] He was originally elected on 1 January 2001 and was re-elected in March 2005, with 77% of the vote.[4] He was again re-elected in 2010 (with 67% of the vote),[5] and in 2015 (with 49% of the vote).[6]

Early life[edit]

Prentis was born and brought up in Leeds where he attended St Michael 's College from 1959 to 1967. He went to the University of London where he took a BA in History, then studied Economic History at the London School of Economics. This was followed by a master's degree in Industrial Relations at the University of Warwick.[2]

Trade unions[edit]

He joined NALGO in 1975. In 1990, he became the deputy general secretary. He was the UNISON's deputy general secretary (DGS) since its formation in July 1993, when it was formed from NALGO, NUPE and CoHSE.

UNISON leadership[edit]

In his role as the deputy general secretary, Prentis directed UNISON's national negotiating team and oversaw the union's policy making functions. He also drove through a strategic review of the union, aimed at delivering key reforms, to bring union services closer to the members. In 2001, he succeeded Rodney Bickerstaffe as General Secretary of UNISON, having been elected in February 2000.

Prentis is responsible for 1,500 staff and a turnover of around £160 million.[7] As General Secretary, he received a total salary and benefits package worth £112,114 in the accounting year ending 31 December 2013.[8]

He is a member of the TUC General Council, TUC executive committee and the Trade Union Labour Party Liaison Committee. He was elected President of the TUC for the year 2008.[9]

He is a member of the Labour Party's economy commission and the Labour Party joint policy committee.

Public appointments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

In 2000, he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and stomach. He had much of his stomach removed, underwent chemotherapy, and then contracted MRSA in hospital. Since his recovery from cancer he has been unable to eat large meals.[2]

Daily Mail apology[edit]

The Mail on Sunday was obliged to print an apology to Dave Prentis on 7 August 2011[12] after incorrectly reporting the previous week that Prentis had received a 31% increase in pension contributions from UNISON. In fact as a member of the UNISON staff pension scheme he was funding the pension increase himself through a 'salary sacrifice' scheme. Other media reported that "many up and down the country use this same technique to minimise their bill" by avoiding marginal tax rate of 60% on salary above £100,000[13] The Daily Mail had been correct in its original statement that Prentis' "total earnings package [for 2010] has risen to £143,887 – up from £142,312 last year" (a 1.1% increase). The figure of £143,887 shown in UNISON's financial statements for 2010[14] was the total cost to the union of employing Prentis for that year - therefore including both the Employers NI costs (£10,003) and the Employers contributions to UNISON's staff pension fund (£32,818) - both contributions to Prentis' pension pots. The £32,818 was an increase of £7899 (31.6%) over the figure of £24,919 made the previous year. However, his basic salary had been cut from £92,688 the previous year to £86,892 (down by £5,796). Overall his "total salary and benefits" went down by £5,511 but his employer's contributions to his pension funds went up by £7,086 accounting for the 1.1% overall increase in employment costs.

Prentis claimed, and the Daily Mail agreed after his complaint, that his increased pension benefits were "self-funded".[12] This means that they came out of his salary in a "salary sacrifice" scheme, not that he funded them from other income or assets. Salary sacrifice payments to registered pension funds are tax free to the employee and NIC free to the employer. Thus without loss of benefits to Prentis, UNISON saved £24,954 the following year in its total cost of employing him:[15] instead of paying £32,818 in staff pension contributions into his pension fund which would have been taxed at 60%, Prentis "sacrificed" £9,275 of his salary which was paid, without deductions, into his pension fund. This kept the taxable part of his salary below £100,000, thus avoiding the 60% marginal tax rate.

All three sets of UNISON annual accounts referred to here (2010,[14] 2012,[15] 2013[8]) note that "Pension costs are prior to employee salary sacrifice, which started on 1 April 2010". This being the case, it is less than transparently clear (perhaps, also, to the Daily Mail columnist) why some, at least, of the tax benefits to UNISON of the salary sacrifice scheme in regard to Prentis do not appear on the 2010 accounts (they cover the period 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2010).

Views on Tax loopholes[edit]

“It would be a huge mistake to slash the tax rate for top earners. This is another example of the rich being let off lightly, while low paid workers bear the brunt.

“It would be totally wrong to lose £750 million to the Treasury at a time when public sector workers are being forced to face pay freezes and job losses, and there are millions out of work.

“The Government would be better advised to look at plugging tax loopholes for the rich and tackling tax evasion that costs us billions, rather than giving top earners a cash break.”

— Dave Prentis, UNISON press release, 5 Aug 2011[16]


  1. ^ Gary Daniels and John McIlroy, Trade Unions in a Neoliberal World
  2. ^ a b c d Christopher Hope (24 July 2008). "Profile: Dave Prentis, an elder statesman of the awkward squad". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
  3. ^ "UNISON: The Public Service Union: 2017 Annual Return" (PDF). Gov.uk. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  4. ^ Unison.org.uk – About Dave Prentis. Retrieved 27 April 2006.
  5. ^ "Dave Prentis re-elected as UNISON General Secretary", UNISON, 22 June 2010
  6. ^ "Dave Prentis re-elected as UNISON general secretary", UNISON, 22 December 2015
  7. ^ "Union boss Dave Prentis bags a 31% pension rise | Mail Online". 30 July 2011. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b "UNISON financial Statements, 2013" (PDF). p. 16. Archived from the original (pdf) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  9. ^ "New TUC President elected in Brighton". Trades Union Congress. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Bank of England | About the Bank | People & governance | The Court of Directors". Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Bank of England Annual Report, 2014" (PDF). p. 53. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  12. ^ a b Dave Prentis | Mail Online. Dailymail.co.uk (2011-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-11-28.
  13. ^ Dave Prentis is a Tax Hypocrite. Guido Fawkes' blog (AUGUST 10TH, 2011). Retrieved 2 November 2014.
  14. ^ a b "UNISON financial statements, 2010" (PDF). p. 16. Archived from the original (pdf) on 17 April 2012.
  15. ^ a b "UNISON financial Statements, 2012" (pdf). p. 16. Retrieved 2 November 2014.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Top income tax slash - UNISON response". 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 11 October 2011.

External links[edit]

News items[edit]

Trade union offices
Preceded by
Alan Jinkinson
Deputy General Secretary of NALGO
Succeeded by
Position abolished
Preceded by
New position
Deputy General Secretary of UNISON
With: Colm O'Kane and Tom Sawyer (1993–1994)
Succeeded by
Keith Sonnet
Preceded by
Rodney Bickerstaffe
General Secretary of UNISON
Preceded by
Alison Shepherd
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Sheila Bearcroft