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from Breakingviews:

Technical measures won’t curb pay extravaganza

By Edward Hadas
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

One of the more puzzling British and American trends in the last three decades is the vast increase in the share of national income allocated to the very rich. The High Pay Commission, a non-governmental UK body which published a report on Tuesday, points out that share of British national income garnered by the top 0.1 percent of earners has moved from 1.3 to 6.5 percent since 1979. The Commission has a 12-point plan to change things.

The puzzle is two-fold. First, what caused the shift? Companies may be bigger. But corporate bosses do pretty much what they always did. They are just getting paid much more to do it. At BP, one of the few big British companies with clear records going back to 1979, the top boss received 16 times as much as the average worker in 1979. Last year BP’s “boss-peon” multiple was 63.

Second, why has there been so little public indignation about the pay extravaganza? The report’s forward says “the public is rapidly running out of patience”, but in fact this trend has been in place for decades, was not halted by the recession and has not fired up a mass protest movement. There are rhetorical expressions of outrage from politicians and at the pub, but the British, like the Americans, seem remarkably complacent about the triumph of the elite.

The reform that breaks the camel’s back?

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Trade union leaders have been warning for some time now that it would be pensions reform — not pay freezes or job cuts — that could prove the trigger for widespread public sector strikes this year.

Now activists, eager to punish the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, have all the ammunition they need in the Hutton pension review.

Is RBS chief Stephen Hester worth £9.6m?

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As chief executive for a company that is 70 percent owned by the government, a 9.6 million pounds pay package is quite a tidy sum.

It is a package that makes Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Stephen Hester almost as well as paid as the Real Madrid-bound Cristiano Ronaldo.

Council workers strike – is it justified?

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(updated with new photo)

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Hundreds of thousands of council workers are striking over pay in the biggest bout of industrial unrest in years.

Members of Unite and Unison are protesting over deals to increase their pay by 2.45 per cent, which is below the rate of inflation and which they say means an effective pay cut.

Hands up who thinks the teachers are right

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school-sign.jpgThousands of schools are closing on Thursday as teachers hold their first national strike in more than two decades.

The members of the NUT, as many as 200,000 teachers, say the action is to teach the government a lesson for offering them an unacceptable, below-inflation three-year pay deal.

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