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Bosses have grabbed more in 2022 than workers earn in a year

Winning local battles over pay can give workers the confidence to hit back
Issue 2787
Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca

Pascal Soriot of AstraZeneca is heading for a massive payout (Pic: AstraZeneca)

By 9am on Friday top bosses had grabbed more pay in the first four days of this week than an average worker in Britain earns in a year.  

The average chief executive of a FTSE top 100 company has already topped what an average worker gets in 12 months.

The research by the High Pay Centre (HPC) think tank shows how bosses and billionaires have profited during the coronavirus crisis. 

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Is it the nurse in an intensive care unit, saving the lives of those struck by Covid, or an elite investment banker, making millions, who contributes most to society? Which of them stood up for all of us during the pandemic?

“The report shows that the banker could be earning 100 times more than the nurse. That means there is something fundamentally wrong with British society.”

The majority of the FTSE 100—the 100 businesses with the highest market value on the London Stock Exchange—had not announced CEO pay for 2021. Yet 57 percent of those that had, saw an increase in 2020. 

Bosses complained that they suffered a 17 percent drop that year as lockdowns hit profit-making. But HPC analysis shows that the average FTSE 100 CEO was still paid £2.69 million—that’s 86 times the median full-time worker in Britain.

One of them, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, was already on a pay package of £15.4 million in 2020. But the pharmaceutical giant’s shareholders approved a large increase in bonuses and pay in May.

TUC union federation general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “The pandemic has shown us all who keeps the country going during a crisis. There are millions of hardworking people in Britain—from carers to delivery drivers, to shop floor staff—who give more than they get back, but greedy executives are taking home millions while ordinary workers face yet another year of pay squeezes.”

Union leaders’ words need to be turned into action. Stopping the slide towards ever-greater inequality means winning pay battles and encouraging more resistance. 

Every union should be pouring in support and solidarity to the local battles that are breaking out as workers push back against real terms pay cuts while bosses grab bigger pay packets.

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