The pay gap between top FTSE bosses and their lower-level counterparts is getting wider, according to a new report. The Guardian’s annual survey of executive pay in the FTSE 100 found that there has been a big jump in the number of boardroom behemoths earning more than £5m – from 20 to 34 – but a fall in the number earning more than £1m, from 249 to 227. So it’s not only the poor bedraggled workers we should be feeling sorry for – how can any right-minded non exec survive on a measly six-figure salary. It’s almost inhuman.
The survey discovered that FTSE 100 directors (a total of about 1,260 people) earned a combined £979.2m last year, 5% more than the previous year – which might come as a bit of surprise given the amount of shareholder value destroyed in the last 12 months. Top of the pile was WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell, with Reckitt Benckiser chief Bart Becht (who earned £22m) and Barclays president Bob Diamond (with £18m) occupying the other medal positions. It was also a good year to be a mining boss: Xstrata paid its directors a combined £30m, with CEO Mick Davis and Santiago Zaldumbide, the boss of its zinc business, both making it in the list of top 10 earners.
The report also helpfully points out that Davis’s salary of £14m was 424 times the average salary paid to Xstrata employees. So it’s no surprise that it has provoked the outrage of the unions. GMB general secretary Paul Kenny’s typically forthright response was: ‘The Guardian survey understates the extent of the rip-offs… The taxman is the only one who can stop this bonanza. GMB want a top rate of 90% for pay packages worth more than £3m. We might lose a few footballers and some top managers but I am sure we will manage without them.’ How very progressive.