Thursday, 1 December 2011

One year on - the 99%

This is an occasional review of how the discourse on just wages, wage ratios and equality is going one year on from the beginning of the Just Wage campaign.

First for the bad news - the gap in wages and living standards between Britain's rich minority and the majority is ever-widening, and the Coalition government's ideology and policies are set to maintain that situation for the foreseeable future.

However, history may well show that the extreme iniquity of this government's approach ultimately fuels and propels the discourse. Some examples of recent developments:

London Assembly Member Darren Johnson has called for a 'Fair Pay Mark' similar to a Fairtrade Mark. His report here. 

The Resolution Foundation has produced a tool for checking where you stand in the UK income distribution league table.

The current National Institute Economic Review journal focuses on poverty and inequality and highlights that current government policies are likely to increase inequality and stifle social mobility. 

Islington has become the first London borough to promise a maximum 10:1 pay ratio between top and bottom-paid paid employees.

Richard Wilkinson's TED talk on 'how economic inequality harms societies' nears half a million views.
71% of 11-18 year-olds say inequality was either mostly or partly to blame for the riots this year.

The Archbishop of York: “If [CEOs] have a responsibility to their staff, it is hard to imagine a more powerful way of telling some people that they are of little value than to pay them one-third of one percent of your own salary”

George Monbiot has written an awesome myth-busting essay on high pay "Intelligence? Talent? No, the ultra-rich got to where they are through luck and brutality."

And I would say most significantly of all, the Occupy Movement has addressed the roots and branches of economic injustice and given us the most useful 'ratio' of all as a powerful rallying point: 99% 

The focus is particularly on the banks, and with good reason. As just one example: "Barclays' top executive's earnings have increased by a stratospheric 4899.4% since 1980, whilst wages for the average worker have only seen a three fold increase."
Even the private sector are doing some reflection. Here's a great blog post about "what the protestors are angry about": 
In last 20yrs CEO pay up 298.2%, corporate profits up 106.7%, production workers' pay up 4.3%:

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