Monday, 22 November 2010

Results are in!

So it's Len McCluskey. I would say it's a great result that the fat cat's anointed successor did not win. Time will tell what approach the new Unite General Secretary to the growing gap in wages and wage ratios in particular.

This stage of this campaign is now closed, and many thanks to all the supporters and campaigners over the last months.


Tuesday, 9 November 2010


The High Pay Commission is go!

Good on the Joseph Rowntree charitable trust.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Candidate response 2: Gail Cartmel

Gail Cartmel, the one woman candidate in the Unite General Secretary election has responded to the Just Wage Campaign in her blog and has contacted us. Here is what she has said to us:

I agree that the 1:10 Just Wage Campaign ratio although 'achievable' and an improvement on the government's suggested 1;20 is still too high.

A just wage ratio for Unite is an idea I support, whether this is 1:5 would need to be discussed with the union's workforce TU representatives. This is a challenging debate I welcome and would open interesting discussions about other aspects of the union's pay and rewards policy.

A politican's answer but broadly positive. Two candidates to go...

The blog post is here:

Candidate response 1: Jerry Hicks

Unite General Secretary candidate Jerry Hicks was the first to respond to the call from the Just Wage Campaign and was supportive. Mr. Hicks has contacted us and when his written response comes through it will be posted here. As many members may know, he has a previous commitment to an even fairer wage than 1:5 - as his campaign literature says, If elected Jerry Hicks would only take the average wage of a skilled worker.

We wonder if any other candidate will top this?

You can read more at his campaign website

Monday, 18 October 2010

Campaign is GO!

Our friends at One Society have made live the e-postcard that Unite members can send to the General Secretary candidates.

The candidates' responses will be posted in this blog. You can read more about them here:

Contact the candidates using the e-form here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

What is it worth?

Next month Radio 4 will run a series of programmes about pay and in preparation they have this bafflingly simplistic survey online:

My background is in sociology and this survey makes my jaw ache. How can one say what a profession 'should earn' in a total vacuum? Is that a Personal Assistant in London or somewhere much cheaper to live? A Retail Cashier at Tesco or an independent shop? Does the income of the Premiership Footballer include all their sponsorship deals? The 'should' is presented as simply a comparison exercise with the other professions and yet we aren't given the option of ranking them in terms of mental, personal or physical effort or effects of the work, difficulty of access to the profession, impact on other people's lives or livelihoods... The comparison is presented in such a way that seems to imply that some jobs may deserve a salary as low as £10k - a salary that can scarcely be lived on in this country much less in London, much less without recourse to benefits & tax credits. Are we expected to think of the Train Driver etc. as a lone individual and not take into account the fact that most people also have families to support, or may want a mortgage - something unattainable on the average income in this country?

I dread to think what generalisations the programme makers intend to arrive at when they examine the completely inadequate results that can be got from a survey like this one.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Check where your wage fits in

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has a tool online that tells you where your income falls in comparison with the rest of the country.
When you think about your income, do you feel rich, poor, or just plain average?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Just Wage - Campaign Supporters

more to come...

If you want your organisation here, just drop me a line at just.wage AT googlemail DOT com

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Compass Conference

Had a good time at the Compass Annual Conference A New Hope. One Society invited me to speak at a panel named after the campaign along with Bill Kerry from the Equality Trust, Bronwyn McKenna from Unison and MP Karen Buck. I'll think there's an audio recording of the panel knocking around somewhere that I'll put up if I get it.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Postman Writes...

I would have to work for nearly 380 years to earn as much as Adam Crozier earned last year.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Online places for more discourse on wage ratio issues

Unite Elections Timetable 2010

Timetable for Unite General Secretary Election 2010

Nomination forms available/sent out 1st June.

Branch/Workplace nominations : July & August.

Last date for receipt of nomination forms 5th September

Balloting of members commencing 1st October

Last date for receipt of ballot paper noon 29th October.

Count 30th/31st October.

Result announced 1st November.

Declaration 1st December.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Just Wage FAQ

Why support a Just Wage? Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is this about overpaid fatcats?
A: No, it's about proportionality, sustainable and responsible financial stewardship, transparency, justice and addressing the fact that income gaps contribute to social problems from crime to mental illness.

Q: What’s wrong with wide income gaps?
A: Income inequality leads to worse outcomes for every member of society. Everything from health to child well-being to violence is worse in unequal societies. The evidence for each of these and more can be found at The Equality Trust’s website:

Q: Why a 1:5 ratio? Why not 1:4 or 1:6?
A: We don’t believe this is the optimum just ratio, but it is a compromise between some currently used in the UK and what might seem a reasonable ratio to the average person. We advocate a 1:5 salary ratio within organisations generally, but in the case of trades unions, we advocate the highest paid union employee being paid no more than 5 times the lowest paid member. We believe this is important for linking the grassroots membership with officials and administrators and reflects the nature of the union as a social justice organisation. We also believe that 1:5 is reasonably adoptable across all sectors, including those with very different types of work within them.

Q: Why are you picking on trade unions?
A: We definitely don’t aim to undermine trade unions, we believe strongly in human rights at work and democracy in the workplace. We also believe that the national administration of trade unions are in the ideal position to set an example of taking a social justice approach to wages. If they don’t, who will?

Q: Does anyone already use a salary ratio system?
A: Some example ratios currently in practice:
Senior permanent civil servants have published salaries (2009) which work out at a ratio of about 5:1 ( highest £273,250, lowest £57,300)
The Ecology Building Society uses 5:1
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) uses 4:1 at their administrative centre.
The Church of England uses 3:1 for clergy (2008 figures: archbishop £68,740, local vicar £21,600)
The typical amount that can be borrowed for a mortgage three years after the beginning of the credit crunch: 3:1 (3 times the borrower’s salary)
A typical FTSE 100 company director earns 133 times the average salary.

Q: What is the average salary in the UK?
A: £24,000.
80% of us live on less than £35,000 per year.
Unemployed people on benefit have to live on £3,340 to cover food and travel.
The average house price in the UK (April 2010) is £168,521 (7x the average salary) and the London average is £336,409 (14x the average salary). Again, mortgage lenders usually only loan up to 3x the borrower’s salary.
Fewer than 10% of us make than £100,000.

Q: Why a ratio rather than a cap on the highest salaries?
A: A ratio puts the focus on the lowest earnings within an organisation. We want to raise awareness about the fact that six-figure salaries and non-livable wages exist within the same organisations and even workplaces.

Q: Are you in favour of a maximum wage?
A: Yes. The extremely high payments being taken by people like FTSE 100 company directors increase social divisions and other social problems mentioned previously.

Q: Aren't pay differentials unjustifiable when we all have similar material needs for shelter, food etc?
A: Our stance is that pay differentials are both a cause and a symptom of an unjust society. The ratio campaign is one step in addressing one damaging aspect of our society and economy.

Q: What do you mean by 'low wages'
A: 22% of us live at or below the poverty line (£14,040 for a family with 2 children) (
Minimum wage is £5.80 (less than £13,000 per annum), which is not enough of a wage to keep people out of poverty even when topped up by benefits and tax credits.
A ‘living wage’, which would provide a minimum acceptable quality of life and doesn’t have to be topped up by in-work benefits is (2009 figures) £7.14 and £7.60 in London. (see, and
In 2009, 3.9 million people in Britain aged 22 to retirement were being paid less than £7 per hour. 2/3 of these were women. (

Your salary affects your pension, your lifestyle and even your life chances. In Britain in 2010, over 20,000 people die every year because they cannot afford to properly heat their homes. A 2001 report on low pay in East London found cleaning staff working as much as 60 hours per week and still getting less than a living wage .
For more examples of the many ways a low wage affects people on a daily basis in every aspect of their lives, see:
and ‘Hard Work: Life in Low-pay Britain’ by Polly Toynbee.

Q: I spent 5 years at University, don't I deserve to be paid more than someone without a degree?
A: Does that 5 years really justify being paid several times more than someone else? Aren't their needs the same as yours?

Q: I worked hard to get to a senior position and I deserve to be paid more.
A: Again, it's about proportionality. If you're honest with yourself, does that work justify an extra £100K/2Million/10Million above other people in your organisation? Do you work 200 times harder than the people who clean your office and toilets at 5am every day then go home to care for their children for no pay at all?

Q: If senior people don't get paid more, there will be no incentive for people to work harder.
A: Is a salary increase the only reason you do your job well? Again, see the answer above.

Q: Why do you want to prevent people from being rewarded for success?
A: See previous two answers. Are the successes of a barrister worth 5 times the successes of a teacher?

Q: If we don't pay a six-figure salary, we won't attract the best people into our senior roles and succeed in a competitive market.
A: Where do these myths come from? Have you ever met your organisation’s CEO? Do you really think their job is so hard that they must be 5x or 10x more of a genius than you are?

Q: Shouldn't redistribution of income come from taxes?
A: There are two commonly practiced approaches to income redistribution, one is through taxes before it gets to your pocket as done in Sweden, the other is capping your salary in the first place as done in Japan. We believe it should come through both, though we believe in grassroots social change first and foremost...

Q: Do you think that ratios and caps should be enforced by law?
A: No, we believe in social change through reason, free choice, public pressure, peer pressure and government incentives as a sweetener.

Q: Does the salary included in the ratio include incentives such as bonuses and expense accounts?
A: Yes.

Q: Will people support this campaign?
A: Yes, for moral reasons, for ethical and practical reasons because wide pay gaps harm society, for reasons of controlling budgets within their own organisations, and ultimately for reasons of consumer/donor and peer pressure.

More information on fair pay and income inequality can be found at:

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Case Study One: Higher Education

The damage:

The reward: