Avoid ‘ludicrous’ pay levels

Once upon a time, in the UK, in the 18/ 19th centuries, many capital (factory) owners minimised their workers’ pay in order to maximise their capital gains – they overdid it – worker resistance grew and Trade Unions were formed to argue for a fair deal for employees

Years later, in the 20th century, the reverse happened – some Trade Unions overdid it with endless strikes for unreasonable pay rises and overgenerous employment packages – this led to the demise of whole UK-owned industries e.g. cars, motor-bikes, coal mining, shipbuilding – some Union leaders, by outrageously flexing their muscles for more pay for their members, thus destroyed their jobs

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher helped cure this so-called ‘British disease’ with new employment legislation to curtail the frequency of such strikes – but it was no panacea

In this new millennium, there are still examples of gross unfairness out there in the capitalist markets:

  • FTSE 100 CEOs now pay themselves 150 times the average pay of their employees, apparently ‘because they can’ – and capital owners, the shareholders, currently let them get away with it
  • RMT (The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) tube drivers are now paid £60,000 per annum for a job that most could soon be trained to do – described as ‘ludicrous’ by one government minister
  • RMT train drivers also wreak havoc on their Southern Rail commuter customers (who pay their wages) by holding a series of never-ending strikes which purport to be about safety but are more about politics – much like ‘Red Robbo‘ did with his never-ending strikes at British Leyland, and we all know what happened to them


So what is fair?

Dirty or dangerous jobs (e.g. miners or firemen) should attract a premium which recognises the difference between them and ordinary, often dull jobs (e.g. much blue and white collar work) which most people can soon be trained to do

Then there’s the more difficult jobs where, the higher one climbs a promotion ladder, the more difficult the jobs become – hence fewer people are competent to do them – hence more pay is needed to attract qualified people to have a go

But there are limits:

  • CEOs must come to accept they deserve no more than 30 times the average pay of their employees – this would also be an encouragement for them to seek to raise the pay of all – otherwise, they should be forced to retire and let one of their many lieutenants, most equally capable of doing as well as them, take over
  • Members of militant unions such as the RMT should recognise that, if people start to describe their pay levels as ‘ludicrous’ then managers will be strongly encouraged to find technological ways of substituting for them – at the current rate, it’s only a short matter of time before most trains are fully automated


Conclusion – Outrageous pay destroys jobs at both ends of the job spectrum – and rightly so




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