It'd be nice if Fat CatTuesday could fall a bit later next year.
Byline: GRAEME WHITFIELD
WITH Christmas and New Year festivities behind us, many people were perhaps looking for a new celebration to keep us going through the January gloom.
Thank heavens, then, for Fat Cat Tuesday, the annual celebration of the moment FTSE 100 chief executives have already earned more than the average worker will make in a whole year.
For those of you who missed it - and it was simply divine, so I'm told - Fat Cat Tuesday was this year celebrated on January 5. My, it seems to get earlier every year!
Fat Cat Tuesday is the idea of the High Pay Centre, a pressure group that monitors top earners' pay and campaigns for greater equality in our pay packets.
Its calculation was rather generously based on taking the average pay of a FTSE chief executive - PS4.95m - and working out an hourly rate of PS1,200 by assuming those bosses are working long hours and taking few holidays. Starting on Monday morning, they had earned the average UK salary of PS27,645 in just a couple of days and by the time you're reading this, they've got two years' worth of salary in their bank accounts.
The High Pay Centre's argument is that this level of pay inequality is bad for the country and bad for business. It creates an increasing gap within our top companies and a distrust of business in the wider population.
I find it hard to argue.
Of course very few, if any, CEOs in the North East are paid anything like that amount. And most people know too how an effective person in charge can often make a huge difference to an organisation, making life better for thousands of people below them.
But wouldn't it be nice if Fat Cat Tuesday could fall just a little later next year? Countless studies have shown that countries where there is more equality of income are happier, healthier and more productive.
Curbing executive pay, even if just a little, would be a step in the right direction but how that is achieved is another matter.
The power of shareholders to curb executive pay has been increased in recent years, but that power is hardly ever used.
There appears to be a reluctance to take on the very highly paid that is less evident when it comes to freezing the pay of those at the bottom end of the scale.
Graeme Whitfield is business editor of The Journal