UK: recovery for bosses, slump for workers

Submitted by Matthew on 1 June, 2011 - 12:28

Top bosses of top companies had a median 32% rise in earnings last year. The total pay of chief executives of the Stock Exchange’s top 100 companies now averages 120 times the wage of the average worker. As recently as 1998, at the start of the Blair years, it was 45 times.

Workers’ average earnings grew less than two per cent last year, in money terms. In real terms, on average, we ended up two per cent worse off.

For the 40% of households above the poorest ten per cent, but below average, a recent report reckoned that our average real incomes in 2015 will be no higher than in 2001, while the luxury of the rich and even of a wider section of the well-off spirals.

That 40% of households had 30% of total household income in 1977, but only 22% in 2009.

In the USA now, the wealthiest one per cent accounts for 20% of all consumer spending, and the wealthiest 10% for half of all consumer spending. Britain is not quite that unequal yet, but getting that way.

The government justifies its cuts by saying that “too much” has been spent on public services and welfare benefits. In fact it has been the rich taking “too much”.

The cuts are designed not to solve a problem of “too much” having been spent generally, but to shape the sequels of a financial crisis in a way that pushes profits back up as fast as possible, and slams down working-class standards and conditions so that bosses can eventually expand again on the basis of lower costs.

On 8 May the Sunday Times reported: “the 1,000 multimillionaires in [its] Rich List are £60.2 billion better off than they were in 2010”.

In 2010, they were £77 billion better off than in 2009. Over two years since near the lowpoint of the global finance crash, they have gained £137 billion, a 53% rise in their stash to £396 billion.

Compare that with the total of £81 billion which the coalition government is cutting from public spending. That figure overestimates the real cuts, because it includes cuts which socialists have no objection to: reductions (compared to previous estimates) of the interest paid on government debt, and decreases in military spending.

From benefits, the Coalition government’s planned cuts over the next four years total £18 billion, and from education and other local services, £16 billion.

Those figures mean drastic social damage, but they are small compared to the increase in wealth of just the top one thousand people over one or two years.

Bank profits totalled about £30 billion for 2010. Bonuses in high finance and in other industries totalled £22 billion this year. The loot is much bigger than the cuts.

Why should we accept any cuts to our jobs or services when the bosses are raking it in, and the bankers are splashing around wealth like confetti?

Seize the huge wealth of the banks to pay for what we need, and enable rational, democratic control of big investment decisions, currently dependent on the bankers’ profit priorities! We should fight for a workers’ government that will take the banks and financial system into public ownership and use their huge resources for social goals.

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