EXECUTIVE PAY : A CHILDREN'S GUIDE

I couldn’t resist posting this transcript from today’s Radio 4 interview with Dr Heather McGregor, the director of head-hunting firm Taylor Bennett.  Patting us on our heads for our childishness, she suggests we emigrate to Cuba if we can’t see the case for high, very high pay. Seethe or chuckle?!

John Humphries: Are you seriously saying that it doesn’t matter how much the boss, of a publicly quoted company, and we’re not talking about entrepreneurs, who make billions…

Dr Heather McGregor: It matters, but it matters to their shareholders. And their shareholders–

JH: Not to the workers? Not to the workers at all, you don’t think that somebody earning £20 grand a year looks at a boss earning £20 million a year and thinks “that’s not right…”

HM: I think that the people who should set the pay, for the people at the top of companies, public companies, are the people that own those companies.

JH: But you know as well as I do that there’s a nice little merry-go-round, they’re all members of the same kinda clubs –

HM: That’s absolutely not, and –

JH: Renumeration committees don’t have members on them who are members of other committees?

HM: That’s not true, and furthermore we do already have worker representation.

JH: Really? You know it’s true, I’ve met them.

HM: We have workers, we have worker representation on pension funds already, all over the country on big pension funds, and those people do have a say. I mean at the moment –

JH: So they have a say on the renumeration –

Deborah Hargreaves (Chair of the high pay commission): Well that works very well, so why shouldn’t we do it for pay?

HM: No, that is the same thing because they are representing their pension funds who are the owners of these shares, so we already have worker representation. John, you have young children, you would not give your children a say in how much money you allocate yourself every year for clothes or for haircuts.

JH: I’m not sure that’s relevant really…

HM: Yes it is relevant! It absolutely is relevant. We do not operate workers co-operatives. If they all want to work in a workers co-operative everybody can move to Cuba. These companies are owned by their shareholders, and it is the shareholders who should have the say on executive pay and not the workers.

Thanks to Alex Hern at Left Foot Forward for the story.

PS Why ‘renumeration’? Is this a new concept? What happened to ‘remuneration’?


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