Should Ordinary Wage Earners Launch a Revolt? Study Shows Top Canadian CEOs Pay by Lunchtime of Jan 2 is Equal to Annual Salary of Ordinary Worker

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 3, 2014 10:26 AM EST

Companies have not learnt the lessons of the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy movements that hit major global cities in 2011. One of the key points of these protests was the income inequality and wealth distribution between the wealthiest 1 per cent and the remaining 99 per cent.


Rabobank's chief executive Piet Moerland is expected to step down earlier than expected following reports that the Dutch lender is on the the cusp of being fined $1bn by US and UK authorities for its alleged role in Libor fixing (Photo: Reuters)

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The situation remains today, according to the recent yearly review of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that by 1:11 pm on Jan 2, the average top paid Canadian CEO would have earned the average annual salary of a full-time worker.

The conclusion was based on the top 100 CEOs in Canada wallowing in an average compensation of $7.96 million in 2012, while the average annual salary of a Canadian worker was $46,634.

From 1998 to 2012, the pay of Canadian CEOs in companies listed with the Toronto Stock Exchange ballooned by 73 per cent, while for the same 14-year period, the annual wages of the average Canadian full-time worker rose by a measly 6 per cent.

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The data confirms the complaint of the 99 per cent that the gap between them and the 1 per cent continues to wide since the top 100 highest-paid Canadian CEOS makes 171 times compared to an average workers, substantially higher than the 105 times logged in 1998.

The highest paid Canadian CEO, Hunter Harrison of the Canadian Pacific Railway, enjoyed a pack package of $49.1 million in salary, stock options and bonuses.

While there has been a growing pressure for board to curb executive compensation and grant shareholders a say in their pay package which should be tied to the company's performance, CEO pay in Canada and other countries remain remarkably resilient, noted Hugh Mackenzie, author of the report.

He wrote, quoted by CTV News, "Compensation packages paid to chief executive officers have come under intense scrutiny and pressure from shareholder, the media, and the general public. There is no clear relationship between CEO compensation and any measure of corporate performance."

This anomalous situation led Pope Francis to condemn the super salaries for the rich, while the poor survive on crumbs. It was the same message the pope made in late November.

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In his message that marked the Roman Catholic Church's observance of World Peace Day, the pontiff dared international leaders and corporate executives to put in place effective policies to bridge the growing wealth gap.

He said, "The grave financial and economic crises of the present time ... have pushed man to seek satisfaction and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy ... The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles."

Would the corporate world heed the challenge or would it take a global tidal wave of protest from workers to move government and business leaders to close the income inequality?

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Rabobank's chief executive Piet Moerland is expected to step down earlier than expected following reports that the Dutch lender is on the the cusp of being fined $1bn by US and UK authorities for its alleged role in Libor fixing (Photo: Reuters)
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