Them & Us: bosses’ bonus billions bonanza

£44 billion in bonus payments last year

Greedy, grasping bosses, photo Liz West (Creative Commons)

Greedy, grasping bosses, photo Liz West (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Stephanie Hammond

Between April 2015 and March 2016, bonuses in the UK climbed 4.4% to £44.3 billion. This enormous wealth was enjoyed almost solely by financial sector bosses – the very same group that triggered the disastrous economic crash in 2008.

The Office for National Statistics reports bonuses soared past the previous record of £44.2 billion, set in 2008. That was the year investment bank Lehman Brothers crashed and brought the global economy tumbling down with it.

Yet the fundamental structure of the finance industry is unchanged. The bosses are obscenely rewarded while vulturous banks continue to profit by gambling public debt against the economy.

Tory and New Labour governments systematically stripped away regulations in the decades prior to 2008. No effort has been made to curb bankers’ behaviour since.

So Jeremy Corbyn’s call for reforms is welcome. But without public ownership under democratic workers’ control and management, even the most stringent regulations count for little more than a lick of paint. Privately owned banks will always seek private profit at all costs.

Their parasitic profit-making is in stark contrast to the income and living standards of the vast majority of people. Real wages have fallen dramatically since 2008, by 20%, and show no signs of recovery. Inequality stands at a level never before seen in recent memory, despite the wealth that is clearly available.

No trust can be given in the super-rich class to tackle economic inequality – not least the undemocratically appointed Tory prime minister Theresa May. Her party has done everything it can to assist with transferring wealth from the bottom of society to the top.

The only way forward is for the working class to organise in its own interests. Build a mass, democratic party of the 99% which can fight for public ownership and a living wage for all.