Monday, September 14, 2009

Executive pay keeps rising, Guardian survey finds.

When I read stuff like this I honestly don't know why people aren't outside their offices burning effigies of them and demanding that they simply go.

Executives at Britain's top companies saw their basic salaries leap 10% last year, despite the onset of the worst global recession in decades, in which their companies lost almost a third of their value amid a record decline in the FTSE.

The Guardian's annual survey of boardroom pay reveals that the full- and part-time directors of the FTSE 100, the premier league of British business, shared between them more than £1bn.

Bonus payouts were lower, but the basic salary hikes were more than three times the 3.1% average pay rise for ordinary workers in the private sector. The big rise in directors' basic pay – more than double the rate of inflation last year – came as many of their companies were imposing pay freezes on staff and starting huge redundancy programmes to slash costs.

So, when their companies make money, they get a rise. When their companies lose money, they get a rise; even at a time when they are making staff redundant to cut costs.

It just seems as if there is no limit to their bloody greed.

The Guardian data also shows that a coterie of elite bosses at the helm of multinational corporations are seeing their overall pay packets soar ever higher. The 10 most highly paid executives earned a combined £170m last year – up from £140m in 2007. Five years ago, the top 10 banked some £70m.

The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Vince Cable, said: "The Guardian's analysis shows the breathtaking cynicism involved in a lot of executive pay deals, which are unrelated to either personal or corporate performance and involve people who are very well off helping themselves to larger salaries when private sector wages in many companies are being cut."

Cable gets it right: "Breathtaking cynicism" is the only way to describe such behaviour.

And they are rewarding themselves in such a way at the very time when they are proposing cuts which would affect some of society's most vulnerable members:

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC, said: "The recession has done nothing to stop the gap between top directors and the rest of their staff getting wider every year.

"It is even more offensive when the Institute of Directors has called for spending cuts that would hit pensioners, the poor and low-paid public sector staff. We've already had the 1980s-style recession, it looks depressingly like we are going back to 1980s greed-is-good politics, too."

It's no wonder that the TUC are saying the election of a Tory government, and the cuts to public services they are promising, might result in riots. Quite how one can propose cuts to public services whilst the richest members of society - many of whom brought about the financial crisis due to their inordinate greed - continue to feed at the trough with reckless abandon, is simply beyond me.

It's no surprise that one of the first things children learn to say is, "That's not fair." Our sense of fairness is built into us and it takes quite a lot of spin and false selling - "think of us as wealth creators" - to get most people to accept the huge discrepancies in income which exist in this country.

But to be paying themselves in this way, whilst simultaneously calling for cuts in public services, is simply taking the piss.

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