Saturday, 20 February 2010

Maximum Wage

Green Party Spring Conference was in Finchley this year, so I could hardly not make an appearance. This weekend I am busy working, leafletting, and trying to have a social life - shock! horror! - but I did manage to attend on the Thursday and Friday.

As always, there was plenty of policy being made (we are one of the few parties left with a truly democratic internal culture - any four members of the party can propose policy and have it debated), discussions being had and campaigning plans being hatched. The most interesting decision of the two days, to my mind, was one that I couldn't actually speak on - I was co-chairing the plenary session where it was discussed!

At long last, after the session on Friday, the Green Party has firm policy in favour of a maximum income differential within UK firms. I have been a fan of the idea of a maximum wage (in one form or another, there are many ways in which it can be done) for years, and it's great to see the Party adopting such a radical proposal, which sets us out way ahead of the establishment political consensus. We have set the differential that we would pursue at ten times - in other words, the highest paid worker in an organisation could not earn more than ten times as much as the lowest paid. Given that, in some big firms in the UK today, that differential is currently well over 100, this is pretty meaty stuff.

Having said that, there have been rumblings about this idea for a while in the mainstream press, with this article in The Mirror being only the latest example. NEF guru Andrew Simms, with his usual foresight, was writing about it in the Guardian way back in 2003. And, of course, there are actually operating examples of such schemes across the world - with perhaps the most famous being the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain.

The effects of inequality in our society are obvious, and there hasn't been such a prime opportunity to deal with them for decades. I hope we won't let it pass - and that policies like this will take centre stage at the next General Election.

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