Revealed: winners and losers in the British pay league

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The Independent Online

Huge pay gaps are opening up between "winners" and "losers" in the workforce, according to a new study of the latest official figures.

Among the winners are doctors and financial brokers who are enjoying by far the highest pay increases of full-time employees, outstripping inflation 10-fold.

Already among the highest-paid employees in the country, the average medical practitioner received a rise of 20.4 per cent - paid to secure support for NHS reforms - giving an average salary of £81,744. Brokers got an extra 24.8 per cent yielding £80,233.

The highest paid were directors and chief executives of major organisations who got an increase of just under 6 per cent but which gave an average £171,509 in salary. The figures leave out share options which can mean as much again - a perk not available to most other full-time employees.

All that compares with an increase for Britain's average full-time worker in 2005 of 4.5 per cent, giving a gross annual pay of £28,210.

The figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal a growing gulf between those at the top of the tree and those at the very bottom. But they also show a widening gap between the top six earners and those immediately beneath them.

The highest-paid employees include financial managers, senior civil servants and airline pilots who are paid an average of more than £60,000 a year - £10,000 more than the next highest - statisticians, lawyers and senior police officers. Professionals with comparable qualifications - such as scientific researchers (£31,868), vets (£31,078) and telecommunication engineers (£27,061) - are some way behind.

The highest-paid "blue collar" employees - 63rd in the league - were train drivers on £34,211, outstripping most teachers and lecturers, according to the study of government data for the GMB general union.

The statistics, analysed by economics researcher Andrew Craven, show that while higher education professionals were ahead of rail workers - on an average £40,657 - secondary school teachers got £32,878 and primary and nursery teachers £30,181. At the bottom of the academic heap were further education lecturers on £30,070.

The number of media studies and journalism courses at universities have rocketed in recent years, but, on average, journalists were paid a relatively modest £32,614. The National Union of Journalists is beginning to use the figure as a target during negotiations at local newspapers where graduate reporters earn around £12,500 a year.

While skilled building workers on sub-contracts often earn in excess of £50,000 a year on major projects, their full-time colleagues receive far more modest wages. The average electrician in full-time employment received £25,470, plumbers £24,564 and bricklayers £20,864.

At the bottom of the league were leisure park attendants (£10,420), checkout operators (£11,036), bar staff (£11,319) and waiters (£11,527). Driving instructors also lost out, falling 39 places in the rankings, earning £22,728. Last year they earned almost £25,000.

Paul Kenny, GMB general secretary, said: "The pay of all those at the bottom and in the middle of the pay league is closely controlled. However, the pay of senior managers and directors is subject to little control and the numbers and pay of these people continues to inflate. The only way to tackle the resulting inequality is via the tax system."

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