The latest economic reports offer more doom and gloom. In the UK the rise of executive pay in comparison to the salaries of the" 99%", that is the ordinary man and woman, is shameful.
A year long investigation, launched in November 2010, by the think tank Compass and backed by the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust has ended. It makes for stark reading. Its overall conclusion is that the UK is almost back to the level of Victorian inequalities, as far as pay goes.
What a disgrace in the 21st Century.
Top earners in the UK have had a bumper 30 years. During that time their salaries have increased by more than 4,000%. Not bad when you compare it to the measly threefold increases of other wage earners. Those who it suits in society so often claim that these high salaries are needed in order to attract and retain exceptional people plus create more jobs. In reality in the UK these salary hikes have stifled the economy even further.Trust and confidence has fallen by the wayside. Failure, in some sections of society appears to be rewarded with over inflated pay and big bonus payments. Sky news has shown one example, the struggling Lloyds bank. This bank was a financial mess which ultimately needed a taxpayer funded bailout. It is now part nationalised. Yet its chief executive has received a" pay increase of 3,141.6% to £2,572,000 over the same period of time" This is 75 times the average Lloyds employee.
The gap between the 1% and the 99% in the UK has grown out of all proportion. During much of this 30 year period of time The Conservatives were in power in the UK. Labour had its time in office in the middle of these years but was either unwilling or unable to stop the rot.
The UK High Pay Commissioner has issued a statement saying, "The growing pay gap between the top 0.1% and everyone else is increasing public disillusionment, damaging trust and fuelling the view that business leaders are in it for themselves. "There's a crisis at the top of British business and it is deeply corrosive to our economy. When pay for senior executives is set behind closed doors, does not reflect company success, and is fuelling massive inequality, it represents a deep malaise at the very top of our society. The British people believe in fairness and, at a time of unparalleled austerity, one tiny section of society - the top 0.1% - continues to enjoy huge annual increases in pay awards. Everyone, including each of the main political parties, recognises there is a need to tackle top pay."
If they recognise the need will they tackle it? The current UK coalition government will be reluctant to hit their supporters and backers but they must. Workers in the UK currently have job cuts, pay freezes and pay cuts to contend with. The UK average wage now stands at £25,900 which is up from £6,474 in 1980. Pathetic?
David Cameron's "we are all in this together" continues to echo around the UK but as empty meaningless words unless the balance is addressed.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog