Tuesday, January 03, 2012

There's Something Rotten in the Boardroom

Most of you know me well enough to know that I am a small 'c' conservative and I have no problem with a free market capitalistic approach to business.  But I must admit even I was startled this morning to hear the latest news on Canadian executive salaries.  It seems we are learning more from the United States then we think.

It turns out that the top 100 paid executives in Canada, earned in 2010, an average of $8.4 million. That represents 189 times what the "average joe" earner in Canada earned in the same year (the ratio was 105:1 in 1998). And if that's not enough to get you a little concerned, these top executives got an increase from 2009 that averaged 27%. Try being a union negotiator and asking for anything close to that these days.

These figures also mean that by noon today (January 3rd) the first day back to work in 2012, these 100 executives earned more than what the average worker in Canada will earn in the whole year.

And lest you think this kind of thing only goes on in the private sector, let me share with you some more news that was exposed today.  Thanks to the 'freedom of information' legislation that recently covered hospitals, we got a glimpse today into some special perks that Ontario public Hospital CEO's are enjoying.  Let me give you a short list (taken from several contracts and not applying to all, but you'll get the idea):
  1. a luxury car lease or $18,000 per year for one
  2. golf club membership
  3. plastic surgery
  4. $25,000 worth of career counseling if one gets fired
Thanks to the CBC website for giving us the details.  Surely, there's an appropriate limit to these kinds of practices, even in capitalism.  Is there any wonder we had a few people interested in "occupying" whatever space in Canada they could recently?  And I have a hunch they'll be back in full force, with more recruits, once this news gets out and once the cold snap is gone.

Meanwhile, to add even more icing to the cake, CBC radio today reported on a lockout by management at a locomotive plant in London, Ontario where the company is demanding unheard of concessions taking salaries back about twenty years.  And this from a company for which the federal government had poured lots of money into recently.  Go figure.  Clearly, if this is any example of how things are to be done in 2012, we are indeed in for some exciting picket lines across the country.  And it is quite evident that the adage of "what's good for the goose, is good for the gander" is not know to Canada's corporate bosses.

The Bible tells us to be worthy masters of our staff, treating them fairly.  But then again, most of Canada's elite aren't too familiar with the Good Book.  Perhaps ministers and priests ought to abandon the Christmas story (and rabbis the story of the oil that lasted for eight days) at year-end and preach on the employer-employee relations as depicted in the first Epistle to Timothy or indirectly in Proverbs (for our Jewish friends).  Why, with Christmas (and Hanukkah) being the only time of the year that many darken the door of a church or synagogue, it would be more appropriate.

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1 comment:

  1. Here's a follow-up: The BBC reported today that luxury car-maker Bentley whose British cars start at $208,000 U.S. saw an increase in sales of 37% in 2011, taking the manufacturer back to pre-recession days. U.S. customers bought about one third of the approximately 6,000 cars produced in the year, and China was next with just slightly less. Go figure.