The Guardian 23 November, 2005


Capitalist pigs

In a special 16-page supplement last week (16/11/05) the Financial Review listed the "earnings" of the CEOs and Executives of the top 300 companies in Australia. As the shameless recipients of the huge payouts check to see who got more or less, the millions of working people on or below the average wage of $660 per week no doubt grit their teeth in anger at the obscenities committed by their alleged "superiors" and bosses.

Rupert Murdoch "survived" with an income made up of salary and "short-term incentives" of a bit over $23 million last year ($442,300 per week) from just one of the companies he controls. Compare that with Howard’s guaranteed minimum wage for full-time adult workers of $484 per week. Murdoch just beat the hardworking Alan Moss, CEO of Macquarie Bank who had to make do on a mere $18.5 million ($358,000 per week).

This is the Bank that employed Bob Carr as an adviser at a reported half a million dollars a year. Six of the 20 top earners come from Macquarie Bank. If this and the other banks were publicly owned, as they should be for many reasons, there would then be no shortage of money for schools and hospitals. Even the clipping of the obscene payouts to top executives would go a long way to making up the pay of low income earners in Australia.

The pay packets of these filthy rich are usually made up of a base salary, share options, incentives, bonuses, free air travel, interest free loans, credit cards, a company car, sometimes with a driver thrown in, perhaps a helicopter too. On top of that are the freebies to take home for the wine cellar, the children’s school fees, private health insurance, overseas travel, and so the list goes on and on. All, of course, packaged to minimise taxation.

Leighton’s boss, Wal King took home a mere $246,000 a week says the Financial Review. Leighton was one of the contractors that built the new network of toll roads in the western suburbs of Sydney and will continue to reap revenues for the next 34 years as a result of the unbelievably generous (to Leighton) private-public contract entered into by the NSW State Labor Government.

If you think that these companies are democratically run, just forget it. Novogen held an AGM at which 70 percent of those who voted, voted against the executive pay handout that was reported. But then the directors came up with a little fiddle saying that there were only 12.5 percent "against" when the voting shareholders were set against the company’s issued share capital. There is no such thing as one vote one value in company rules. Wealth wins every time.

This Financial Review supplement is rich in information and should be in the hands of all active trade unionists.

The Financial Review is however, completely silent about how these pigs come by their disgusting and immoral pay-outs. It has nothing to say about Karl Marx’s theory of surplus value and that ALL WEALTH is the creation of labour — the work of those who actually make things, provide services and work like slaves at check-out counters, grow the wheat and vegetables, drive the huge transport vehicles and so on.

The "rewards" paid to CEOs are often the result of their sacking hundreds or thousands of workers and, as they would tell us, making their company "more efficient" and "increasing productivity". Fewer workers working longer hours is their aim and, if Howard gets his way with the IR legislation, for less wages as well.

That’s why all these "captains of industry" are in favour of Howard’s IR policies and are licking their chops as they contemplate how they will force virtually empty individual work contracts on their workforce, be able to sack at will, neglect safety and health on the job, send you to work on Christmas Day without paying any penalty rates and much, much more.

Karl Marx is not out of date and communist parties that fight for revolutionary change in society are also neither dead nor out of date. But it is up to you to join the struggle.

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