By Charlie Kimber
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Top bosses grab pay rises of £500,000

Bosses from fossil fuel and arms companies are some of the highest paid
Issue 2869
On the junior doctors’ strike rally in London holding a placard which reads understaffed, undervalued, underpaid and overworked

On the junior doctors’ strike rally in London (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Britain’s top bosses saw their pay surge by 16 percent last year as most workers saw their wages hugely outstripped by inflation, according to new research.

The High Pay Centre said CEOs for firms on the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s largest companies had an average pay rise of around £500,000 in 2022.

Unions said the data shows that Britain has become “a land of grotesque extremes”. That’s right—and it’s time to take action over it.

The average pay for a FTSE 100 CEO increased from £3.41 million in 2021 to £3.91 million in 2022, the High Pay Centre think tank said.

The research shows that the gap between bosses and workers also widened further. The average top boss was paid 118 times the average British full-time worker, up from 108 times in 2021. AstraZeneca boss Pascal Soriot was the highest-earning boss after grabbing pay of £15.3 million for the year.

Other particularly highly paid chief executives included those from climate-killing fossil fuel firms and war profiteers. They are Charles Woodburn of BAE Systems, Bernard Looney of BP and Ben van Beurden of Shell.

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre said, “At a time when so many households are struggling with living costs, an economic model that prioritises a half-a-million-pound pay rise for executives who are already multi-millionaires is surely going wrong somewhere.

“How major employers distribute the wealth that their workforce creates has a big impact on people’s living standards.”

The think tank called for union rights but also a “fairer share” for workers and for workers to have more representation on company boards.

Stronger unions—fighting unions—would be a big step forward. Bosses won’t listen to pleas for fairness, or to union reps on the board. And in any case such figures are often tamed by the environment they are elevated to.

TUC union federation general secretary Paul Nowak said, “While millions of families have seen their budgets shredded by the cost of living crisis, City directors have enjoyed bumper pay rises. We need an economy that delivers better living standards for all—not just those at the top.”

Winning that requires more—and harder-hitting—strikes against the Tories and bosses. 

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