Monday, August 17, 2009

High Pay Commission?

Compass have done well with some publicity for the letter in today's Guardian calling for a "High Pay Commission".

It is possible to quibble about the details, but in essence this is a good demand. One of the most important functions of a trade union is to seek to regulate the employment relationship for our members, including our pay. In doing this we are often trying to "buck the market" - and our support for a Minimum Wage is also support for the idea that the income and living standards of human beings should not be set simply by reference to supply and demand.

Those who defend the exorbitant rewards for the super rich on the basis that the market demands adequate reward for those wealth creators who might otherwise go elsewhere are generally the same people who support a punitive welfare benefits regime to motivate the poor to work. A good example is John Redwood's attack today upon the detail of attempts to regulate high pay. This from a legendary opponent of the welfare state. On Planet Redwood (where Dave Cameron comes from too) to motivate the wealthy you must reward them but to motivate the poor you must penalise them.

More important than any institutional outcome of this campaign will be the success of the left in defeating the Thatcherite dictum that you cannot buck the market.

The signatories to the Compass letter also appear to be an attempt to get started on building cross Party opposition to the easily anticipated excesses of an equally easily anticipated Tory Government, which may also be a good idea.

(It would of course be both churlish and childish to remark upon the irony of a letter which starts by stating that the crisis we find ourselves in is "one significantly caused by greed" bearing the signature of Margaret Moran so I won't...)

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