CBI chief's wage 130 times minimum

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The Independent Online
SIR CLIVE THOMPSON, captain of industry and bitter opponent of the pounds 3.60 national minimum wage, is paid nearly 130 times as much, it was calculated yesterday.

As Sir Clive and other senior figures in the Confederation of British Industry gathered for their annual conference, they were accused of "rank hypocrisy" for attacking the statutory floor on pay.

The union-funded Labour Research Department estimated that Sir Clive, CBI president, is paid pounds 466.34 an hour, which works out at more than double the minimum hourly wage every minute. Sir Clive, chief executive of Rentokil Initial, has recently defended his company for paying the lowest average wages among firms in the FTSE-100 index.

He predicts that the minimum wage, due to come into force on 1 April next year, will cost his company around pounds 5m a year and that employees could be made redundant as a consequence.

The CBI called for a minimum struck at around pounds 3.10 to pounds 3.20 an hour and has characterised the pounds 3.60 minimum figure as "towards the higher end of what is acceptable to business".

Using company annual reports, LRD has calculated an hourly rate for most of the senior CBI figures assuming a 60-hour week. Pension contributions and profits from share option schemes were not included.

The top five earners on the president's committee are Sir Peter Bonfield, chief executive of British Telecom on pounds 352.88 an hour - 98 times the minimum; Sir John Browne, chief executive of British Petroleum, pounds 300.70 an hour (83.5 times); Niall Fitzgerald, chairman of Unilever, pounds 299.77 an hour (83.2 times); Lord Simpson, managing director of GEC, pounds 289.74 an hour (80.5 times) and Lord Blyth, deputy chairman and chief executive of Boots, who earns pounds 279.17 an hour which is 77.5 times the minimum.

Even where the posts are part-time, LRD found earnings of which ordinary workers could only "dream".

Sir Sydney Lipworth, for example, part-time chairman of Zeneca, gets pounds 53.20 an hour - 15 times the statutory minimum.