Unite’s Len McCluskey slams ‘insulting’ Tory proposals on wage inequality
UNITE general secretary Len McCluskey said government proposals to pass the buck for raising low wages and curbing huge boardroom salaries onto company shareholders were evidence of “the big-business lobby bringing the Tories to heel.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark has announced that companies will be made to reveal the pay ratio between bosses and workers and to justify the difference — but there are no plans to make companies do anything about it, unless shareholders order them to.
Britain has one of the highest levels of pay inequality between bosses and workers in the developed world, with the chief executives of the country’s biggest 100 companies raking in on average 130 times more than the workers they employ.
Mr Clark also said that workers should be represented on company boards — or, failing that, there should be a “non-executive” director to represent their interests.
His announcement follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s condemnation of “the unacceptable face of capitalism” — a phrase she stole from a Tory predecessor, Ted Heath, who used it in 1973 when criticising alleged mismanagement by Lonrho boss Tiny Rowland. Mr McCluskey said the new measures proposed by the Tories showed that they had been reined in by big business.
“The UK is one of the most unequal developed economies,” he said.
“Too many at the top enjoy eye-wateringly high salaries and rewards like gold-plated pensions, while the workers who have helped make them so rich struggle more and more to make ends meet.
“So yes, absolutely something must be done to bring some sanity and justice to wages in this country.
“What is being proposed today will not do that. It will not address the wage crisis working people are enduring.
“The government has chosen to distance itself from making changes, shoving the onus for this onto the wider community to hold listed companies to account by lobbying shareholders. This is simply inadequate and is actually insulting.”