Bank Bonuses For RBS Executives?
I encourage people to support British protest singer Billy Bragg's campaign to withhold taxes as a protest against the planned £1.5 billion worth of bonuses to be paid out to RBS executives. They are being given these bonuses as rewards for one of the biggest annual losses in British corporate history.
British taxpayers collectively are the majority shareholder of RBS, owning 84% of the bank. They are not being consulted over these bonuses and although Alistair Darling, the UK chancellor, has a veto right over bonuses at RBS following the government bail out, he is choosing not to use it.
Bragg is not arguing to abolish the bonuses altogether, just to limit them to £25,000. However would they manage on a bonus equivalent to a good salary for the rest of us? They already earn salaries the likes of which most of us can only dream about.
Another issue this whole debacle raises is the concept of a bonus itself. Bonus comes from the Latin word for "good", therefore a bonus is meant to be a reward for achievement. It shouldn't be a right or expected year after year even when you make the biggest cock-up in financial history.
The Confederation of British Industry and chief executives of large banks such as HSBC argue that if we cut the bonuses then our best bankers will go elsewhere. I say: let them. They can hardly be that good bearing in mind the massive financial crisis and recession that they are, not entirely but nearly, responsible for. How much worse could their replacements be?
In the end, Bragg will have to pay his taxes and he knows this, but hopefully his protest will get people to air their grievances and put pressure on the government. The bankers made massive mistakes and if the worst they get is a lower bonus on top of their exorbitant salaries this year, then they should count themselves lucky. If they are a bit short, then they can follow Dale Winton's advice and "cash their gold".