On the Pulse: Are ‘fat cat’ CEO salaries justifiable?

Today is Fat Cat Friday: the date by which top UK bosses have already made more than most working people will earn in the entire coming year.

By 1pm today, the average FTSE 100 CEO will have made more than £29,574 — the median full-time worker’s salary in the UK — according to a report published yesterday.

The median pay packet of a FTSE 100 CEO will increase from £3.5m in 2018 to £3.9m this year, said the report from the High Pay Centre think tank and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

We went today to King Street, Hammersmith, to ask passers-by the question:

Do you think that fat cat CEO salaries are justifiable?

Yes: 36% No: 64%

Local teacher Mr Kareem, 43, said: “You’ve got to understand that top CEOs are given their jobs by shareholders, not employees.”

Mr Kareem said however, that does not make the situation right.

He said: “You’ve got to change the whole system, perhaps towards employee ownership, as the Labour party suggests.”

He said that if 20-40% of shareholders were themselves employees, or appointed by employees, this would naturally even out income disparities in a borough ranking fourth-worst in the capital for income inequality.

Alan Cook, 65, said that the private sector is by nature not regulated like the public sector.

He said, however: “Bearing in mind that CEOs don’t manufacturer anything themselves, they take all the money.”

CAN SEE BOTH SIDES: Alan Cook says CEOs manufacture nothing but the private sector is not regulated.

Ornamental pottery artist Nicholas Rena, 55, also mentioned Labour Party plans towards employee ownership.

CHANGE IS NEEDED: Nicholas Rena said the government should adopt Labour’s policies towards employee ownership.

He said: “My father is very rich, and my family is quite privileged, but most rich people are oblivious to the plight of average working people.

“The poor are like a fungus in a wood and the politicians just look at the fungus and don’t do anything to help.”

Faika Hassan-Ali like Mr Rena said the situation was “absolutely” unjustifiable, and that “only fat cats would agree” to it.

UNJUSTIFIABLE: Faika Hassan-Ali thinks fat cats’ salaries are unfair.

Many respondents seemed torn between saying yes or no, feeling that in the current business climate top CEO salaries were justifiable, though perhaps something should be done to help give workers more pay.

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