Interesting to see that according to a national think tank, ‘fat cat’ CEOs could have knocked off work at lunchtime on Wednesday and already have taken home the same as the average worker earns in a year. That said, if they’d wanted to be stuck with my wage they could have snuck off at elevenses yesterday instead.
Anyway, this got me thinking. A little. Over the course of the day, and here is my lukewarm take.
First off, I’d like to see the maths behind this. Luckily, if you skip past the newspapers and head to the High Pay Centre itself, you can find it. It’s long and boring, but it boils down to this… the calculations are assuming an hourly wage based on each chief executive working 12 hour days – including every weekday and three quarters of weekends – and only taking 10 days leave a year.
Sounds unlikely to me. As much as these guys will be going way beyond wage-slave hours, and will most likely be on-call for most emergencies, they will not be plugged in, logged on, or called out for 12 hours solid of each day. Which means, in effect, that actually their hourly compensation will be higher than that calculated. They could have earned the yearly average before their morning fag break, perhaps.
Of course, if they’d gone for one of their £25,000 working weekends at the start of the year, they could have downed tools – downed smartphone? – almost before we worthless layabouts had actually got through our hangover fug.
However, most of this is really just another distraction. Over the course of today the #FatCatWednesday hashtag on social media, and reports on various news websites, have decried wage inequality as the great injustice, ignoring the fact that it is really only a symptom.
Yes, the wage gap has increased obscenely over the past couple of decades, but would knocking a zero off bosses paychecks make that much difference. How about instead of Theresa May harping on about a maximum worker to boss pay ratio, she makes sure more of the money given to bosses is taxable, and that tax is actually collected? Instead of decrying the gap between a CEO and his lowest paid employee, she guarantees that worker a proper living wage – and not just the old minimum wage dressed up in borrowed Labout hand-me downs.
And while we should be worrying about the fatcats getting the cream, what about those other beasts taking their own share – quite literally. It’s true that CEO pay is hugely overinflated, but they put a lot of work in – although I doubt it’s 140 times the work, which is what the pay ratio would suggest.
Do we really think that by cutting CEO remuneration and putting workers on boards, suddenly extra millions each year will become available for wage packets? Of course not, they will go straight into the pockets of those who have done absolutely nothing to create them – the shareholders.
*I did have a point to make here about the fatcats skewing the average, but it turns out those clever High Pay guys used median pay for the first time this year. So that’s alright.