Call for 'fundamental rethink' of value of work

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The Independent Online

Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than city bankers, according to a new method of calculating the value of different jobs published today.

The new economics foundation (nef) called for a "fundamental rethink" of how the value of work was recognised and rewarded.

The think tank said its study shattered some of the myths used to justify high pay and argued that workers such as hospital cleaners or waste recycling workers created more value to society.

The report, A Bit Rich?, said: "High pay comes on the back of extraordinary profits, made possible because companies do not have to pay the full costs of their activities. Some of the costs of production may be hard to see, such as greenhouse gas emissions or the impacts of sweated labour, but someone is bearing them now - or in the future.

"Until the prices of goods and services reflects the true costs of their production, incentives will be misaligned. This means damaging activities will be relatively cheap and profitable, whilst positive activities will be discouraged."

Eilis Lawlor of the nef said: "Pay levels often don't reflect the true value that is being created. As a society, we need a pay structure which rewards those jobs that create most societal benefit, rather than those that generate profits at the expense of society and the environment."

The report called a high pay commission to recommend a maximum national pay differential, the introduction of a transaction tax to reduce high risk and unsustainable trading and added that high pay should be "reined in."