The writing on the wall

Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:00
  • Hidden hand
  • Not so nice for us
  • Biting the hidden hand
  • Look at me
  • The real fat cats

Hidden hand

According to Life at the Top: The Labour Market for FTSE-250 Chief Executives by Nick Iles, the median salary of FTSE-100 top pussies has grown by 92% in the last 10 years, to £579,000. In 2001, when the value of top companies fell by 16%, top executives gave themselves a 12% increase in pay, with bonuses up by 34%. Shocking figures, but they won't surprise people who follow the news.

Even more interesting in Iles' report is the critical examination of the myths about why managers get so much dosh.

The priests of the free market generally cite three reasons for the global market value of top directors.

The first is that managing a top company is a high risk job. But,, says Iles, these people generally walk out of one highly paid directorship straight into another - even when they've demonstrably failed in their old job. Hardly life on the high wire.

The second reason is "visionary leadership". But Isles shows most CEOs are bureaucrats who stick to the deal-making and mergers which boost short-term share prices.

The third reason is "the market" which dictates the world price of a top manager. British managers are well known around the world for being crap. No one wants them apart from the British companies who like to stick to the crap they know. That's not a market!

What are we left with? A club of third rate bureaucrats who bang on about an imaginary top salary market in order to inflate their own pay. Nice jobs for bosses…

Not so nice for us

When the then Tory government opted out from the EU's working time directive in 1993, the rule was that workers had to choose to waive their right to work not more than 48 hours a week. There was to be no intimidation by employers. How strange, then, that an EU commission has found that there has indeed been intimidation by some bosses.

Apparently British bosses routinely make workers give up their right to a 48-hour week at the same time as general contracts of employment are signed. This, say the commission, gives workers the impression that any job offer they receive is contingent upon them signing away their rights. And in many firms proper records of hours worked are not kept.

Around four million Britons, or 16% of the workforce, work more than 48 hours a week. Some 1.5 million work more than 55 hours a week. Britain is the only EU member state where weekly working time has increased in the past 10 years.

New Labour in government has gone along with the work until you drop culture (it's what the market requires). But the Government does not agree that an abuse of the working time directive is widespread. Bullying bosses? Never!

Biting the hidden hand

Never let it be said that New Labour only does what what Britain's visionary and kindly bosses want. They are always prepared to take a stand on equality and justice when required. Look, they're going to give 16- and 17-year-olds a minimum wage! The CBI have warned against the rate being set too high, but New Labour are prepared to go as high as £3 an hour. Patricia Hewitt went so far as to say that it would be "wrong" to allow youth exploitation.

Now at last the young people of Britain will be able to buy as many Toblerones as they want. What do you mean, they want homes and food and clothes? What do you mean, it's discrimination to pay a 16-year-old less to do the same job as an 18-year-old, or an 18-year-old less than a 22-year-old?

Look at me

Victoria Beckham didn't get where she is today by moaning about how shitty capitalism is. And look at her… an image of super entrepreneurship - mum, hip-hop artiste, cat-walk model, gorgeous film star and all round talentful human being. And now she is going to launch a magazine. It's going to be called Liberty. Apparently it is to be named after her niece, but we think it's inspired by the "liberty" bodice - underwear designed to make young ladies look thin, just like Victoria.

Because, according to Bliss magazine, that's what nine out 10 girls between 10 to 19 want to be. Thin.

Two-thirds of Bliss's 2,000-strong sample, average age 14, thought they needed to lose weight, and 64% under 13 said they had been on a diet. Eight in 10 wanted to lose more than half a stone, and 46% a full stone.

More than a quarter of 14-year-olds said they had considered plastic surgery. Two in 10 said they had an eating disorder.

Bliss's editor said the results of the survey were "tragic". Indeed they are. Perhaps now girls' and women's magazines will stop exclusively using skinny models?

The real fat cats

It is not widely known but the truly obese in Britain today are in fact… pet cats.

British moggy and dog owners spend £11.23 billion a year on food, presents and grooming for their pets.

414,000 people spend more than £300 a month on food for their pets (enough to feed a family of four really, really well), while 61,000 splash out more than £1,000 a year on grooming.

Ah, isn't it nice that at least the nation's cats and dogs feel loved, and couldn't give a rat's arse how they look. Pass the Whiskas, momma!

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