The ITV industrial dispute: everything that’s wrong with politics and the economy in Britain

Workers at ITV have been offered a 2 per cent wage increase. Meanwhile the chief executive last year took home £8.4 million.

Workers at ITV have been offered a 2 per cent wage increase. Meanwhile the chief executive last year took home £8.4 million

BECTU members at ITV, along with their colleagues in the NUJ and Unite, will shortly vote on strike action. Workers at the station have been offered a 2 per cent wage increase, which the National Union of Journalists says represents a pay cut in real terms.

Meanwhile, ITV profits have increased by 30 per cent to £435 million and revenues are up 8 per cent to nearly £3 billion.

Though the company has decided that office administrators, studio technicians and programme-makers won’t be recognised for their contribution to this success, not everyone has been so unlucky.

Chief executive Adam Crozier’s pay package increased last year to £8.4 million, up from a mere £2.9 million in 2012. This included a £1.4 million annual bonus, a £2 million bonus for performance over the previous three years and a £4 million payment awarded to Crozier when he joined the company in 2010 that he was able to access in 2013.

Nobody would argue that Crozier is not a highly-skilled manager, or that every ITV employee should be paid the same. But it is crazy to think that so many separate multi-million pound incentive payments are necessary to coax an acceptable level of performance out of him, on top of his fixed salary of just under £1 million.

Equally, even if one attributes ITV’s success to Crozier’s strategic brilliance, he is still dependent on thousands of colleagues to advise and execute his decisions. The fact that most of these workers will experience no real benefit from the increase in profits and revenue is hardly likely to engender a willingness to go the extra mile for their employer in coming years.

So this pay settlement is unfair, disproportionate and represents poor business sense in the long-run. Unfortunately, it is symbolic of what is happening across the wider economy.

Research from Citi shows that workers pay as a proportion of GDP has slumped to its lowest levels since 1998. The proportion of GDP accounted for by corporate profits has risen over the same period and it is not unreasonable to surmise that growing profits – which overwhelmingly end up in the pockets of the rich, including company executives as a result of their generous share awards – directly result from falling wages.

The response of many on the political right is to say that this is the nature of ‘the global race’ and that, rather than reform the economy – on an international scale if necessary – to make it work for the common good, low-paid, insecure work is the best we can hope for in a globalized economy where big business holds all the aces.

So for example free market fanatic Jill Kirby told a BBC Question Time audience on Thursday night that a zero hours contract was ‘better than no job at all’, in response to a point about working conditions

In this context, the charge that anyone wanting to address top pay or the gap between rich and poor is ‘anti-aspirational’ looks like the mind-numbingly stupid cliché that it is. Only a tiny number of people will ever pull in a seven-figure salary or live in a mansion, but everybody would like to have a stable, meaningful job that affords them the chance to progress their career and earn a bit more if they and the company are successful.

As the ITV example demonstrates, we’re a long way from being an economy where people have that kind of opportunity.

Tackling executive excess, changing corporate culture and empowering workers to achieve fairer, more proportionate distribution of rewards would represent genuine support for aspiration. Tolerating multiple seven-figure bonuses for individual business leaders – while their staff get nothing – is the very opposite.

Luke Hildyard is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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18 Responses to “The ITV industrial dispute: everything that’s wrong with politics and the economy in Britain”

  1. Joanne

    Let’s see Adam ‘greedy’ Crozier ‘perform’ without his staff’s support. Everybody out!

  2. JoeDM

    The politics of envy. Again !!!

    Get off your fat arses and work your way up to earn the big bucks !!!

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, slave away and see less and less for your labour, as capital displaces wages. Don’t dare change the system or make capital pay a decent rate of tax,

    Yes, you’re really really scared of workers.

    It shows.

  4. blarg1987

    So by your own logic, the people who make the company the money from actually carrying out the work, that creates the products and services we use and consumer are lazy and need to get off their fat asses, however those people who are brought in to run an already established business, that has large amounts of capital, resources and staff should be paid huge salaries to listen to the advice of other people in the same company?

  5. robertcp

    What is your income? Mine is £36,000, so you probably think that I should get off my fat arse!

  6. robertcp

    This is an issue for workers at ITV but I would be inclined to accept 2%.

  7. AlanGiles

    ITV strike means: no “X Factor”, no “Emmerdale”, No “I’m A Non-entity Get Me Out Of Here” and no camp blather from Philip Schofield. Every cloud has a silver lining 🙂

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Well of course, he’e always said that. It’s good right wing so-called logic which sneers at normal workers, sadly.

    He’s also held to the rump of labour fallacy in the past.

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    “No “I’m A Non-entity Get Me Out Of Here””

    I laughed.

  10. GhostofJimMorrison

    You are quite literally an idiot. You are also a troll and a colossal bore. Please, please, please, please take yourself away.

  11. Theduckman

    Congratulations on your pathetic comment. It shows your ignorance and stupidity.
    1. Not everyone can earn £8.4 million because of the finiteness of resources in the economy.
    2. If the chief executive didn’t show up for work the business could carry on as normal. If all the workers decided to go on strike= no ITV shows.
    3. They actually work hard.
    Once again, it reminds me why Right wing people are less intelligent. I thank you once again for proving that point

  12. Leyla Miln

    Unfortunately today we can see a lot of companies that just do not want to recognize participation of all workers in the whole success the company has. They are trying to trick those who have been working hard and take all the money. This leads to financial problems and many people need a help of payday loans for consumers online. This shows the unstable situation in the labor market and the growing level of unemployment. The level of salary is low too and people have all rights to protest and ask for the refund and incrementation of their salaries.

  13. DP

    Er, inflation is 0%. Surely a 2% nominal pay rise is also a 2% real pay rise right now. IIRC average wage growth for everyone in the economy is just under 2%.

    Is there something I’m missing here?

  14. Dave Stewart

    It’s been zero for the whole of 2 months. The annual inflation statistics are a little more helpful here as people don’t typically get a pay rise/negotiation every month. Furthermore inflation has been historically high over the past 5 years or so in comparison to wage growth.

    Also the way inflation is calculated can mask a lot of important changes. For instance over the past 5 years or so energy price inflation has been huge along with food price inflation (which is gladly falling back now), these two things alone affect the less well far more as they spend proportionally more on those things. I believe the OBR have started calculating inflation figures based in income deciles and the results are quite interesting and well worth looking at.

  15. stevep

    The free market only exists for us ordinary plebs. Corporations, the super wealthy and the landed live in an almost – socialist paradise where state-subsidised “incentives”, lower tax rates, cosy deals, taxpayer-subsidisation of poor pay in the form of benefit payments and the knowledge that the cost of failure will be borne by all of us, not just them is the order of the day.
    Adam Crozier certainly rubbed up postal workers the wrong way (With the tacit support of a Labour government) with his “modernisation” of the Royal Mail.
    Left -leaning people like us striving for a better, fairer society should accept that the deification of the super-rich and the vilification of the less well off is a product of unchecked capitalism and we need to learn lessons from it every time we think the Labour party should move to the right. Capitalism is designed to funnel wealth into the pockets of the wealthy and create haves and have-nots fighting each other for the scraps. At the moment, the have-nots have been scared into not doing anything about it for fear of losing even more.
    As for ITV or any other arrogant corporation who won`t engage in meaningful debate about pay and condition for their workers, no one is forcing us to watch ITV or purchase items from them. As ITV relies on viewing figures to attract advertising revenue, it would come as a bit of a shock to Adam Crozier and his cronies if half the nation forsook the pleasures of “Emmerdale” or “Coronation Street” and switched over to other, non-ITV channels.

  16. Mike Stallard

    I am puzzled.
    I have just been reading about Rudolf Hess (yes, that one). He was deputy leader of one of the most powerful political organisations the world has ever seen, yet he lived in a small house and did not use his power to enrich himself.
    I have a relative who did exactly the same. Although she could have made a lot of money by backhanders and chummy-chummy, she died as she had lived in a Council House as poor as when she started. She was proud to call herself a Socialist.
    This loony who is using ITV to be seriously greedy is making such a fool of himself. Nobody can eat four dinners! Or live in five houses! I would be really ashamed if I were leading any organisation like this. Wouldn;t you?

  17. Dark_Heart_of_Toryland

    The Politics of envy? No, this is the politics of greed and selfishness, as peddled by the Tories. Again!!!

    It is sadly typical that so many right-wingers seem incapable of looking beyond their own stunted moral outlook, and cannot grasp that anyone might be motivated by anything more than immediate short-term self-interest.

  18. Duckman

    Everyone forgets that people voted for this. They voted for more inequality and suffering. You get what you voted for

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