Fat Cat Tuesday: who says £10-an-hour is unrealistic?

scottish ten pounds tenner by Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser Next time somebody says that the SSP’s campaign for a £10 an hour national minimum wage is unrealistic, or would damage the economy, spare a thought for the bosses who dictate the poverty pay that workers struggle to survive on. Last year we had ‘Fat Cat Wednesday’. This year it came a day earlier; Fat Cat Tuesday, 6th January 2015, was the day by which the average chief executive of the FTSE 100 companies raked in as much as the average worker will earn over the entire year!

By late afternoon on their second day back at work, the average chief executive of each of the FTSE 100 firms had already piled up £27,200 in earnings, which was the average annual wage of a worker in the UK in 2014.

Even if we make the naively generous assumptions that these bloated bosses work a 12-hour day, only take 10 days’ annual leave, and work 3 out of 4 weekends (none of which assumptions we have any evidence for!), that still means they are on £1,200 an hour! Their annual average income for 2014 was £4.72million—each!

Whereas the average worker’s wage ‘rose’ from £27,000 in 2013 to £27,200 last year, the FTSE 100 chiefs awarded themselves an increase of £500,000 each!

Let’s break down this obscenity of inequality a bit, to master the mind-boggling figures involved. If you did some of your shopping in Primark before Xmas, you helped boost the profits of its parent company, Associated British Foods.

That outfit’s top dog, George Weston, was awarded a £5m Xmas bonus for meeting targets, on top of his £1m salary and £900,000 annual bonus. Yet Primark refuses to pay its workers the Living Wage.

Those cold figures mean that if you are earning the average national wage of £27,200, it will take you 195 years to earn the same as Primark’s George Weston.

And more to the point, given the wages this outfit grudgingly pays its workers, if you are a full-time worker on the £6.50 national minimum wage, it would take you 354 years to match his income!

To use just one other example, if you were lucky enough to use Easyjet at Xmas, you will have helped boost the income of its chief executive, Carolyn McCall.

If you are fortunate enough to get the average worker’s wage it will take you a modest 283 years to match her annual income. But if you are on the ‘economy class’ legal minimum wage, you’d need to stretch it out to 592 years of work!

These gaping chasms of income are perverse. And don’t be fooled into thinking they are the exception, restricted to just the top 100 Fat Cats.

Whilst workers’ wages have plummeted by £50 a week on average since 2010, the pay of ALL company directors rocketed by 21 per cent in 2014 alone.

Just 2,600 senior bankers in London grabbed an average of £1.3m each last year. That means just 2,600 wreckers of the economy had a combined income substantially greater than the entire block grant from Westminster to the Scottish government—which of course was cut, because “we have to balance the books”, and “we are all in it together”!

It’s time to challenge this rotten system, stinking with corruption, rooted in the ripping off of the working class who produce the wealth in order to fill the boots of the obnoxiously rich.

It’s time the trade union movement rose up on its hind legs, mobilised workers, organised in communities, and fought to implement the policy agreed unanimously at the recent Trades Union Congress, “for a £10 per hour minimum wage for all workers”.

It isn’t asking the earth, in this fabulously rich country. It wouldn’t mean workers on £10 an hour could wallpaper their living rooms with £50 notes! But it would transform the lives of millions, including the million people who relied on foodbanks for handouts last year—many of them in jobs.

The SSP is dedicated to fighting poverty pay. We are out to abolish the accompanying obscenity of Zero Hours Contracts. We are constantly told that the economy is recovering from the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. Workers haven’t seen a share of any such recovery.

But since profits are booming, and the Fat Cats are bursting with gluttony, we are in all the stronger a position to demand a bit back from the wealth created by workers in the first place.

Right now, workers on the pathetic ‘adult’ minimum wage of £6.50 would have to toil for 363 years to earn as much as the average FTSE 100 Fat Cat gobbles up in a year. Not a very realistic option!

Join the SSP and fight for £10 an hour now—for all over 16, scrapping age wage discrimination, and with equal pay for women. £10 an hour is not just modest, but entirely realistic, provided we organise and fight for it.

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