14/02/2012 - Bank bonuses an insult to workers

Solidarity Trade Union shares the fury and frustration felt by ordinary workers over the 'Bank bonuses'. Despite being bailed out by the taxpayer, the banks are still offering massive bonuses to senior staff. This is an insult to all workers, including bank staff at the lower end of the payroll.
The problem is two fold. First, the bonus culture in financial institutions is entrenched and bonuses are paid whether they do well or not. For example, Barclays have announced a 3% fall in profits, yet they seem to be offering their Chief Executive a bonus of around £3m. In other words, whether they have done well in a particular year or not, these large bonuses will be offered/paid.
Second, these bonuses are disproportionately large. We are talking of £1m+ in many cases and several hundreds of thousands of pounds for other senior managers. Often they will be a make up a significant proportion of or exceed their annual salaries. Compare these sums to the wages of the average worker or even director.

This is what fuels public anger on the issue.
Executive pay falling into disrepute
There is something deeply unjust about the gulf between the wages (let alone bonuses) of executives and senior managers and workers on the shop-floor. Solidarity Trade Union does not believe you can justify someone, within the same institution getting 20, 30 or 40 times as much as the lowest paid worker! We don't believe in equal wages just fair wages. In the same way many feel sporting stars wages are obscene we feel executive pay has begun to fall into the same bracket. There should be a reasonable, balanced pay structure in any enterprise.
Employee Shareholdings a way forward
The only way this will change, in the short term, is the application of a bonus-tax with maintained until/if the institutions keep bonuses to a reasonable level. This would effectively cap bonus payments. We support the plan from the Labour Leader in this regard. David Milliband said while visiting the Griffon Hoverwork plant in Southampton:

"We want to see a tax for bankers' bonuses and we say use that money to get young people back to work. They are not going to like it but it's the right way to use that money."

Solidarity would like to see more detail on that and would go further. In the longer term, we need to see shareholders, especially pension fund holders, flexing their muscles against such travesties; after all those funds represent the hard sacrifice of ordinary workers. Solidarity would in particular like to see more employee shareholders, co-operative ownership and Employee Trusts. When workers become owners (as self-employed or in the much lauded 'John Lewis' economy) we will see the extreme gulf between wages, let alone, bonuses fade into memory.
Contact: Solidarity General Secretary, Patrick Harrington on 07794 486858 or [email protected]
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