Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/707/14055
It's bonuses for bankers
Ross Saunders, Wales Socialist Party
Bankers are now facing a fresh wave of anger as Lloyds has announced that, despite netting a £3.5 billion loss last year, a handful of executives will collect £375 million in bonuses. After several rounds of government bailout money, the bank is 41% owned by the state but Cameron's coalition refuses to intervene.
Those in line for rewards include four former executives responsible for the bank's part in the Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) swindle, which cost Lloyds £3.2 billion. They stand to pocket £2.2 million this year. Do these millionaires really deserve these bonuses?
The bonuses announced last week apparently reward executives for completing the merger between Lloyds and HBOS in 2009.
But that decision landed Lloyds, already in receipt of £20 billion of government money, in need of a second bailout, as it emerged that HBOS was sitting on losses of over £10 billion. This period also saw 30,000 jobs lost at the merged companies. Not a job well done.
Banks are desperately trying to wriggle out of restrictions on high pay. It emerged last week that, although RBS had cut bonuses, the bank just increased fixed salaries to compensate - pay was almost back to normal. Some banks had as much as doubled pay for executives overnight.
In a mess
We're told that billionaire bankers are essential - that they have to be paid obscenely high pay or they'd abandon us and the economy would be in a mess.
Well, so far these chancers have left us with £30 billion of losses from RBS and Lloyds alone, and billions more has been spent propping up the industry they've wrecked. They haven't earned these bonuses - they've rigged the system so that heads they win, tails we lose.
While these people are in charge of society's wealth our problems will never be solved. Enormous potential is being wasted chasing short-term profits, distorting the economy for the benefit of the few. Investment must be controlled democratically by ordinary working class people - so should the banks' pay policies.
The reason more concessions haven't been wrung out of these parasites is that the enormous public anger isn't being transmitted by a weak political opposition to the Con-Dems.
And no wonder - Labour, now as linked to big business as the other main parties, is the architect of the no-strings-attached banking bailout that left bankers with their hands free to continue to pay huge bonuses.
Ed Miliband reassured bankers recently that any measures Labour proposes in parliament on capping their pay "would not be binding, and would not be legislation" - in other words, would not be serious.
The working class needs to build our own mass independent political organisation to force an alternative to rotten capitalism onto the agenda.
In The Socialist 29 February 2012:
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