Tag: pay deals

“100 leading progressive figures from across the centre-left, civil society and from all corners of the UK, have today called on the government to establish a High Pay Commission to curb excessive pay.” So begins the press release from the pressure group, Compass. Calls for restraint on high pay are hardly surprising at a time of recession and falling profits. Many banks are still paying large bonuses to top executives, despite some of the banks having to be rescued by the government. Other firms too are still rewarding their senior executives with huge bonuses despite poor performance.

But are the members of Compass right to say that “the unjust rewards of a few hundred ‘masters of the universe’ exacerbated the risks we were all exposed to many times over” and that “a High Pay Commission is needed to deliver a fairer, more stable and sustainable economy for the future”? The following linked articles look at the issues.

Coalition calls on government to regulate high pay Guardian (17/8/09)
Think tank Compass says ‘masters of universe’ must be reigned in Telegraph (17/8/09)
The Big Question: Should there be a commission into high pay, and how would it operate? Independent (18/8/09)
Darling dismisses pay commission BBC news (17/8/09) (see also video)
Demands for ‘high commission’ to cut pay and bonuses of executives Scotsman (18/8/09)
It is time for action on excessive pay Guardian (17/8/09)
Top executives pocket huge bonuses despite recession Independent (518/8/09)
Investor group ABI wants guaranteed bonuses stopped Guardian (17/8/09)
It’s an unequal struggle to rein in those with the most The Herald (18/8/09)
Would a High Pay Commission solve inequality? Management Today (17/8/09)
Bankers’ pay: Coining it in Guardian (18/8/09)
Will Britain’s second dose of anti-bonus fever have a useful payoff? Telegraph (17/8/09)
Merit Pay Times Online (17/8/09)


  1. What are the arguments for and against establishing a High Pay Commission?
  2. To what extent are the rewards of senior executives a reflection of their marginal productivity?
  3. Discuss the extent to which the bonus system could be redesigned to align the incentives of such a system to the long-term performance of the company.

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced in January that the government wanted three-year pay deals with public-sector workers. He argued that this would help with planning for public-sector finances. But many commentators likened it to the pay freezes and incomes policies of 30 years ago. The articles linked to below from the Guardian look at the similarities between the economic situation now and 30 years ago.

1. Assess the likely success of a three-year pay deal in keeping the level of public-sector pay under control.
2. “The story of the past 32 years is of how three big factors – privatisation, globalisation and curbs on the power of trade unions – have made it far harder for pay bargainers to use low levels of unemployment to win hefty pay awards.”Explain how these factors have changed the balance of power in the labour market. Discuss the extent to which this assertion is true.
3. Discuss the extent to which the economic situation in 2008 is similar to that in the 1970s.