Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Corbyn's wage caps

Jeremy Corbyn has excited the fury of the media with his proposal for wage caps. The Daily Mail denounced his 'sub-Marxist drivel' while The Daily Telegraph fumed at his 'staggering assault on individual ambition and market forces.' 
In fact he probably took the idea, not from Das Kapital but from (Lord) Richard Rogers, who long ago applied a ratio earnings cap in his architectural practice.
 With lurid accounts of how planes out of the UK would be full of investment bankers and football players I wonder how many charity bosses would be on board. 
As the co-founder of the charity War Child * I am shocked at the salary level of charity bosses. We have all heard of the £234,000 salary at Save the Children. In fact executives working for the UK’s top 100 charities have an average remuneration package of just over £167,000.
I suppose that the wage of the present War Child CEO, a mere £95,000, is modest by comparison. 
The justification is always that the voluntary sector has to compete with the corporate world and attract appropriate 'talent”. 
Reprieve founder, Clive Stafford Clark, would disagree. Supporting the rights of prisoners worldwide, the charity employs numerous lawyers who would be paid much more in corporatopia. In a recent Guardian article, Clark wrote that the highest paid cannot be paid more than one-third more than the lowest paid... 'one should want to do good rather than do well. That said, we pay a very reasonable salary, and we attract brilliant people from all walks of life – we just don’t pay them (or me) excessively, and we do it with a degree of equality. … fairness is much more likely to foster happiness than the brutal competition over money advocated by some.'
Here here to that and I would recommend that the charity I founded follow the Reprieve example. 
If wage cap principles cannot be applied in the voluntary sector we will have increased cynicism towards their motives on the part of the public and a diminishment of their potential to bring about change for the better in this 1% world. 
As Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, the secretary-general of Civicus has said: ‘We have become a part of the problem rather than the solution. Our corporatization has steered us towards activism-lite, a version of our work rendered palatable to big business and capitalist states. Not only does this approach threaten no one in power, but it stifles grassroots activism.' 
 
*I have been asked to state that my views concerning War Child are my own, otherwise “there is a risk that I will be seen to be passing myself off as a current War Child representative.”
You can read about my work as former director at War Child and how it ended in Left Field

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