Have a rant: pay comparisons

Why do we have to be subjected to stories bemoaning the fact that top executives get paid more than average (Personneltoday.com, 4 December)?

Yes, I can see the scandal behind company directors receiving big pay-offs despite obvious failings below them. I can sympathise with football fans who see managers paid millions for failure.

But I really struggle with stories such as last week’s news from the GMB union that directors and chief executives are paid on average seven times more than the average worker. Of course they are. They are at the helm of the major organisations that employ thousands of others.

The GMB said its analysis of pay by occupation looked at the full-time pay of 341 occupations. It did not. It looked at 340 and one other group, ‘directors and chief executives of major organisations’. While I’ve always been ambitious, not once when choosing an occupation did I think ‘I want to be a chief executive’.

The union has a sound message behind its attempts to grab the headlines: many workers are massively undervalued and should be paid more. I agree. The minimum wage should be increased to £7. Perhaps it should. The tax system should be used to even things out. OK then, let’s introduce a higher tax band.

But the GMB’s fantastically simplistic argument that rich people are earning more than poor people – and that is effectively all the survey says – only serves to ostracise people from the trade union movement and its ‘us and them’ mentality.

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