Socialist Worker

Britain’s top bosses grab average worker’s annual pay in under a week

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2737

FTSE 100 fat cats earn a median of £3.6 million a year

FTSE 100 fat cats earn a median of £3.6 million a year (Pic: Tim Sanders)

Bosses of Britain’s biggest companies have taken more in the first three days of this week than their average workers earn in a year.

By 5:30pm on Wednesday—labelled high pay day—FTSE 100 bosses had each already grabbed £31,461 since the start of 2021. The median pay for these fat cats is £3.6 million a year.

High Pay Centre director Luke Hildyard said chief executive pay is about 120 times that of the typical British worker, up from two decades ago.

“Estimates suggest it was around 50 times at the turn of the millennium or 20 times in the early 1980s,” he said.

“Factors such as the increasing role played by the finance industry in the economy, the outsourcing of low-paid work and the decline of trade union membership have widened the gaps between those at the top and everybody else over recent decades.”

Hildyard added that the figures “should also prompt debate about the effects that high levels of inequality can have on social cohesion, crime, and public health and wellbeing.”

Based on previous analysis of CEO pay, the High Pay Centre says FTSE chief executives have put in one extra hour of “work” this week to match their worker’s annual salary.

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The centre said its analysis was based on chief executives “working 320 12-hour days a year.” That would make their hourly pay a staggering £941.

But bosses don't work, they exploit. Without workers, bosses wouldn’t have a company to take profits from. Yet it would take a worker on the full minimum wage rate of £8.72 an hour 212 years to earn the same as the average CEO gets in a single year.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC union federation, said, “This tells you everything you need to know about how unfair our economy is.

“Our army of minimum wage workers—carers, shop assistants and delivery drivers—have kept the country going through the pandemic. Not these CEOs at the top raking in far more than their share.

“If the government is serious about levelling up Britain, it needs to start by levelling up pay and conditions for those we most rely on, and stop the threat to freeze key workers’ pay.”

Warren Kenny, acting general secretary of the GMB union said, “These repugnant figures expose the sheer scale of inequality and exploitation in the workplace.

“The workers who have made heroic sacrifices to keep society together during the coronavirus outbreak deserve better—it is time for corporate leaders, shareholders and politicians to wake up and take action.”

But for that, there has to be a fight. It will take action—not just words from trade union leaders—to force the bosses’ to pay back the millions they squeeze from workers.

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