Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Worker Is Working When The Fat Cat's About

Surprisingly earnest article in The Age today about the culture of golden handshakes for Big Business CEOs. Surprising because it's written by an associate editor, who you might expect to yawn and be cynical.

How much money is enough? The pathetic cliche that's used to defend stuffing the pockets of bosses — if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys — still has some currency. Unfortunately, it could well be judged by history to be one of the most damaging notions of our time. As Martin Lawrence, an analyst with shareholder advisers RiskMetrics, told my colleague Ari Sharp last week: "If paying the most gets you the best, then the CEOs of the Wall Street investment banks were the greatest executives of all time."

The article makes some excellent points, but why do we only shine the spotlight up through the glass ceiling during dire economic times? This should never be acceptable.

Because the market for ex-executives is said to be tight, their wage packages have unemployment insurance built in. That's fair enough as far as it goes, but do their employees enjoy similar benefits? I'm yet to hear of an ordinary worker whose salary carries an extra loading because the market demand for their services is poor.

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