Don't like fat cat pay? Move to Cuba

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As a new report claims that the outlandish salaries of the UK's fat cats are ruinous to society, one brave soul has rushed to their defence.

Dr Heather McGregor of executive search firm Taylor Bennett revealed that in her view when it comes to executive pay packets: "There isn't such a thing as too much or too little money." She also added that those who didn't like the current way pay is set should "move to Cuba". But is her view really so shocking?

Ruinous pay

She was responding to a report by the High Pay Commission, which pointed out that the gap between what top executives are earning and the amount their underlings are scraping by on is growing.

It found that top pay had risen 4,000% in the last 30 years, and that bosses had changed from earning roughly 13 times the average wage to making anything up to 100 times the average wage. The Commission had blamed the complexity of executive pay packets, which means shareholders don't really understand them.

It also said employees should be on executive pay committees and that details of the top packages ought to be published more widely, so that these fat cats would be held to a higher standard. It called for a national body to monitor high pay.

High Pay Commission chairwoman Deborah Hargreaves said: "There's a crisis at the top of British business and it is deeply corrosive to our economy. When pay for senior executives is set behind closed doors, does not reflect company success and is fuelling massive inequality, it represents a deep malaise at the very top of our society."

McGregor's defence

However, McGregor was unconvinced, calling some of these conclusions "barking mad". She likened giving an employee a say on how much their boss was paid to parents giving their children a say on how much they could spend on a suit.

Her most controversial statement was that it should be shareholders who set pay rather than workers, adding: "We do not operate workers' co-operatives. If they all want to work in a workers' cooperative everyone can move to Cuba."

Is she wrong?

The outcry has been immediate and dramatic. However, is she so wrong? If the owners of these companies are willing to pay executives these sums, why should it be any business of the workers? Those of us who aren't seeing our pay shoot through the roof may think it's unfair, but as McGregor pointed out: "Anyone over the age of seven who says things are not fair needs a reality check."

On the one hand she does have a point. On the other, you have to look at who the 'owners' of these businesses are. They are shareholders, who in many cases you could argue have a somewhat cosy relationship with executives.

Plus she is missing a key issue: engagement. It's the magic business ingredient. An engaged workforce doesn't throw a sickie or take the easy way out, they don't just slavishly follow the same old routine and watch the clock. An engaged workforce works hard, every day, to the best of their ability. They create, innovate and make vital breakthroughs that change the business forever. They do all of this because they believe in their company, they feel their company believes in them, and they want what is best for everyone.

You have to ask whether this sort of fat cattery, with such disdain for the workers does a quick and immediate job of disengaging the workforce in its entirety - thereby relegating the business to long-term mediocrity and ultimately to failure.

But what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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