Because you’re worth it?

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“It’s the rich what gets the pleasure

And the poor what gets the blame

It’s the same the whole world over

Ain’t it a bloomin’ shame”.

Funny how some old verses remain timeless. Just in case you thought “We’re all in this together” meant “We’re all equally bearing the burden of this recession together”, let me give you a few figures. A study published by the High Pay Centre today shows that the top men (and occasionally women)  in Britain’s biggest listed companies earn 143 times as much as their average employee. Some examples:

At Next, top man Lord Wolfson gets £4.6 million a year, while his staff, mostly shop-floor workers, take home £10,000 a year on average. And so you don’t have to do the sums, that’s 459 times less than the boss. Compass Group, which employs cooks, cleaners and security people, has a boss called Richard Cousins. Mr Cousins trousered £5.5 million last year, which was just 418 times the average for his workers. The typical FTSE 100 CEO brought home £4.7 million last year, which must have pleased his wife and children. Especially as it was up from £4.1 million the year before. The typical FTSE 100 worker, in contrast, brought home somewhere around £33,000.

Now I have the deepest respect for businessmen and women who launch or lead companies. It’s hard work. You have to sit in an office and make decisions. You have to go to lunch with important people. You have all that responsibility on your shoulders. Ordinary workers don’t have to do any of that. Some of them, if they got to sit at a desk, would consider themselves lucky.

But are the CEOs really working 143 time harder than their average employee? Or 459 times? In a recession, does it make sense for one man to take home £5.5 million?  You’d have to stay up all night every night to spend that bag of swag.

Democracy is a wonderful thing and we should all strive to ensure it’s more widespread and real in the political world. But you never – OK, I never – hear talk of work democracy. By and large most people work hard at their jobs. Why then should the boss earn 143 times as much or 418 times as much? Is their job i43/418 times harder? 143/418 time more boring?

Rather than leaving it at naming and shaming these CEOs, maybe employees should adopt the practice of of a group of trade unionists in 1994. They were attending the British Gas annual meeting, so with them they brought an 18-stone saddleback pig. Over the period of the meeting they fed the animal tracle-covered £5 notes to demonstrate what they thought of their CEO Cedric Brown receiving a 75% pay rise.

A dramatic parallel but maybe a bit unfair. To the pig.

 

7 Responses to Because you’re worth it?

  1. John Patton August 18, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    This is pretty tame stuff from a Tyrone man. It will take more than fattening a pig to end this injustice. Shamefully, Irish and British governments have allowed austerity to be used as a cloak for increased managerial reward at the expense of Labour.

    • Jude Collins August 18, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Look, Patton – I said they were pigs. What do you want – farrow-eating sows?

  2. Iolar August 18, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    “It’s the rich what gets the pleasure… .” No offense, sir, but one must defend the Queen’s English is this distinguished blog. I recall George Dwyers comment on the the paintings of Bacon, “All that money an’ I fink they’re reely ‘orrible.” Now if you want real food for thought, let us ponder Rashers.
    “Rashers Tierney rose that morning about the same time as King Edward. First the dog barked and then a hand reached down and shook his shoulder. It was very dark in the basement.The form above him could have been Death, or a ghost, or the hangover figure from a nightmare….
    “Did you see me little flags,” Rashers asked, stretching his hand behind his pillow and dragging out a board for Mrs. Bartley’s inspection. They were home made favours with four ribbons apiece. “They’re gorgeous, Mr. Tierney,” she said. “Red, white and blue,” Rashers said,“ the colours of loyalty.” “My husband doesn’t hold with England,” Mrs. Bartley said. ”That’s been catered for,” Rashers explained, throwing her a sample, “the green ribbon is for Ireland.” “It doesn’t match up, somehow.” “It never did ma’am,” Rashers said. “Isn’t that what all the bloody commotion is about for the last seven hundred years?”

  3. Perkin Warbeck August 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    For an old fashioned guy like PW there is, arguably, nothing quite like the scent of new mown money. No, scratch that a-adverb, ‘arguably’ and replace it with a d-one, ‘definitely’.

    ‘Arguably’ is a daarling word, of course, so beloved of the Joxers of both sexes and the other, who scribble and gabble for the Dublin media. For the plain reason that it conveys authority on the user without the attendant messiness required to back it up.

    The same Joxers used it a lot during the ‘boom’ years of the, erm, Celtic Tiger or at least at the beginning of said era; as in ‘Ireland is now arguably the richest country per capita in the whole wide world’. Before the crash the d-adverb had all but replaced the a-adverb. (See above).

    The same ‘per capita’ was a sine qua non if not a quid pro quid itself as it implied a certain obsequious doffing of same in the direction of their masters in the media.

    During the Dirty Thirty Years of the wraparound Rapparee Troubles in the Wee North the only game in squeaky c. Dublin town was the D-Word: Democracy. As in: ‘Our fragile Democracy must be preserved at ALL costs rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb’.

    No sooner was the Dirty 30 over (with the help, of course of Section 31, hence its name) than the L-word filled the vacuum left by the now suddenly redundant D-word: Lootocracy.

    Suddenly, before one could count the shrapnel in one’s back pocket, there were more Lootocrats in the Free Southern State that even Perky could shake a pinky at. And the greatest Lootocrat of them all, and the one PW has the most admiration if not the down right tendency to genuflect at the sound of his very name, is none other than Denis O’Brien.

    Yes, PW has no hesitation in fessing up that he has an unshackled worship for the shedloads of shekels accumulated by DOB who is, indeed, a dab hand at the old accumulator. All entirely above board, ca va sans dire. For PW is not one of those who turns green with envy at the sight of other folks’ cabbage patches. The Warbeckian inheritance insulates one from all that petty-minded petty-cash class of thinking.

    While old money types with their honeyed second wives like the tragic Sir A.J. O’Reilly, B.Comm were falling on their tones, having been discovered to have been born, not with silver spoons in their mouths, but rather wooden ones, thankfully, the trajectory of DOB has been upwards and onwards.

    So much so, that Dublin Town is on the verge of becoming DOBlin town, now that he has increased his control of Joxerania, that is, both the print and broadcast media.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing as some of a begrudging DNA contend, but au contraire, a mouth-anointing aperitif for the future of free expression in the FSS.

    Arguably, the greatest song ever composed about moolah was the one nailed down by the ethereal Eartha Kitt: ‘An old fashioned millionaire’. Like the singer, PW is just an old fashioned guy with an old fashioned mind, not sophisticated, he’s the sweet and simple kind. But that is already common knowledge among the dogs and Doges in the street.

    What is not well known is that PW did have the occasional twinge of suspish that all was not quite as rosy in the g. as the media were wont to make out during the C.Tiger era. This twinge would become particularly acute whenever he found himself treading the gold-plated pavement outside the HQ of the Anglo-Irish Bank in St. Stephen’s Green. Why, for instance, the prefix ‘Anglo’.? And why not a syllable of surprise in the media about this odd choice of A-word in the Free Southern Stateen.

    This twinge was prompted too by the unfortunate awareness that the Leprechaun for ‘money’ is ‘airgead’ which is a synonym for ‘silver’ and that all this Hibernian hoo-hah about the moolah at the bottom of the rainbow was so much malarkey: there never was a crock of gold. It was a tactic designed solely to put the DOGs off the scent, the Darby O’Gills who, like the begrudgers, will always be with us.

    Wouldn’t the Irish-Irish Bank, perchance, have been a more appropriate choice of name. (What larks to see the hackles of the hacks that would have raised !).

    But then all this suspicious twingeing was dissolved whenever DOB would drive, correction, be driven by in his old fashioned car, a cerise Cadillac, long enough to put a bowling alley in the back.

    One example will suffice of the positives to be taken out of the ‘graduated’ (another daarling word, Joxer) take over of the Liffeyside media by PW’s favourite Lootocrat, and only positives can be taken.

    Declan Lynch, he of the hallowed gallows humour, was in rare fettle last week, both in print and in studio, having travelled, by chauffeured tumbril no doubt, the short distance from the Sunday Independent to Newstalk FM to offload himself of the opinion (a) that ‘he had not noticed a particular vein of criticism among GAA scribes re the GAA’ to (b) broadcast, with that delightfully eternal undergraduate sneer of his ‘that Premiership soccer is our National Game’.

    Well, if these coat-trailing comments had not PW in as many stitches as Brian O’Linn’s britches, well then, nothing will. For, coming from the author of the hole-hoovering hagiography of Johnny ‘John’ Giles they are a pure eighteen carat riot are they not? Truly, is DL in a league of his own. Can’t recall at the moment, alas, which club he lends his support to at the moment, whether it’s Merchandise City or Mercenary Utd.

    If PW’s favourite Lootocrat was not the owner of both these media franchises would DL have been able to contribute so easily to the gaiety of the nation? (Did somebody say, ‘which nation?’ Ciunas/silence down the back). Arguably, not.

    PW is now delighted to share a musical confidence with the discerning readers of this esteemed blog: that both he and his hero, DOB, like Chopin and Bizet, and the songs of yesterday, string quartets and Polonesian carols. But the music that excels – in both cases – is the sound of oil wells as they slurp, slurp, slurp into the barrels.

    Strike out that ‘arguably’, the Chanteuse Kitt’s song is DEFINITELY the best song about the readies.

    Ever.

    • Jude August 18, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Dear God, Perkin. Your every paragraph is stuffed with riches. When, I ask, will the world awake to your talent? When, in short, will your day come?

      • Perkin Warbeck August 19, 2014 at 6:00 am #

        Dia ar Sabhail !/ Dios mio !

        You don’t already realise, Jude, that your Esteemed Blog (EB) is already being monitored by the Snowdens of Shoneenism and the Assanges of Anglo-Irishry?

        This is the Sneaking Regarder Unit as the Snoops in Wikileaks of West Britiania are know.

        Like their Guardian Angel of old, actually, the Great Observer, Congo Crisis O’Brain aka, Conor Cruise O’Brien who liked to peruse, with red marker in one hand and a safety scissors in the other, the Letters Column of the late Irish Press (British and American papers, please copy) they parse, curse (sometimes) and analyse your every correspondent’s contribution.

        For they are dedicated pros who learned well their 3 Rs (Reconnaissance, Reconnoitre and Recompense) and 5 Ws (Who, What, Why, Where, When) in the Royal Academy of Hiberno-English Hacketry..

        In this instance they had to go no further than Who, actually W.H.O. who have officially declared that your E.B. or, to give it its full title, E.B. Uladh is in fact an epidemic of much greater danger to West Britainia that has been hitherto reckoned.

        EB Uladh is now under global scrutiny.

        But, fret not.

        There is a vacancy due shortly in the Embassy of Ecuador in London as the present incumbent prepares to , erm, Quito.

        Dios never closes one……

        Beir bua / Buena Suerte.

        .

  4. paddykool August 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Jude, there was a time when a company was like a pyramid with a boss at the peak ,tumbling down to wide supporting base of workers supporting him ….and being paid whatever the boss thought would do them while still creaming a considerable profit off the creamy top. The workers had some togetherness and clout and formed unions to protect themselves .
    Nowadays the pyramid has become inverted .At the top there is a wide raft of management being paid good wages and bonus while being supported by a decreasing base of workers at the bottom. the same amount of money coming into the company is being shared out disproportionally. The lesser group of workers at the bottom are expected to produce the same amount of work as before…or more…. but there are fewer of them to do it. At the top there are more managers , sub- managers a variety of paper -shufflers and ass- kickers pushing the ones at the bettom harder to do more and more work for less wages . Managements wages can only ever rise at the expense of the workers on the lower rungs accepting more work for less wages. the pie is the same as it always was but it’s being divided by management to suit their aspirations and they’ll continue to push the people below them , who actually do most of the work , to do it for less.
    Take a look inside any factory or local hospital and you’ll see that in action. You’ll see nursing assistants who are supposed to be in a support role to nurses, {the ones who used to keep those places spotless ….being made to take on more of the nurse’s responsibilities , while the nurse herself spends more of her time on a computer, appearing only now and again on the ward. You’ll also see things like expenses being chopped to the barest minimum while hygiene suffers because ther isn’t enough cash allowed for sufficient cleaning materials or even vital bandages and the like…… The same money is involved , but lots of it goes upstream where it is basically wasted . You might ask why a manager gets paid so much compared to someone who actually does the work. The answer I’ve heard being quoted is simply …”I get paid from the neck up”….in other words the acquisition of a university degree allows a” get out of work” card for life and in the same breath wastes a whole lot of productive money.. People are being paid to sit on their hands and give orders. The problem is that there are many more of these managers nowadays. There was a time when a matron ran a hospital ward and nurses “nursed ” .That’s not the case now. There was a time when a factory ran from the shop floor too and when men and women were paid a reasonable wage .Now they are expected to produce more for less so that a whole cabinet of managers can go home every month with the lion’s share of the profits. I dare say the same thing happened in teaching too. i had a friend, a school principal, who left teaching some twelve years ago because the job had become more like running a modern company….go figure…..