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Happy New Year, Peasants: Your CEO Earned More in the Last Two Days Than You Will This Year

New year, same old rich-poor divide—let's celebrate: It's Fat Cat Tuesday.
January 6, 2015, 7:04pm

The fattest cat of all. Photo via Sean Davis

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Bad news, you fucking worthless drones: By the time you read this, the average FTSE 100 (a list of top companies listed on the London Stock Exchange) CEO has earned $38,360 this year. No, hold on: $38,374. Actually, if you factor in the time this will take to get subbed and uploaded and for me to find a picture of a white dude in a monocle and a suitably Monopoly-esque top hat, you may as well factor another grand onto all that. Let's assume you're reading this early evening and call it a neat $39,000. Yeah. That much.


That's because today is "Fat Cat Tuesday," a thoroughly depressing new milestone that High Pay Centre has come up with to pseudo-celebrate the fact that today—as in, the second day of employment for basically anyone working an average 9-to-5 office shift—marks the day that CEOs will generally eclipse their employees' average earnings ($41,260 is the current UK figure) for the year. In two days .

Think about it like this: in a month where you are—and this is an example being made up entirely at random, and not at all connected to anyone's real life—actively avoiding phone calls from your landlord about where the rent is, a FTSE 100 CEO will earn enough to buy an averagely priced flat in one of London's most expensive boroughs in about two weeks.

Or, to give another example, if you are packing your own bleak little white bread and corned beef sandwiches to take to work with you every day between now and the 31st, your average FTSE 100 CEO has already earned enough to eat a slap-up meal with drinks, dessert, and a generous tip at the Chiltern Firehouse every single day for the rest of the year by about 10 AM this morning.

If you're into depressing math, have this: When the think tank made similar Fat Cat Tuesday calculations last year, they found FTSE 100 chiefs made an average of $6.5 million—in 2013, for which the latest set of CEO pay figures are available, they made on average $7.2 million, an across-the-board rise of about $700,000. In the same period, the average UK salary went up just $300, from around $41,000 to $41,300. But then so did train fares, and energy prices, and the average basket of goods. A Freddo Frog currently costs a quarter in Sainsbury's . Do those fat cats in their ivory towers care about the cost of Freddo Frogs? They don't even feel the cost of Freddo Frogs. Since you started reading this they have earned enough to buy 1,172 of them.


"Fatcat Tuesday highlights the problem of unfair pay in the UK," said the High Pay Centre's Deborah Hargreaves. "For top bosses to rake in more in two days than their staff earn in a year is clearly unfair, disproportionate, and doesn't make social or economic sense."

What's the solution? According to Deborah, politicians. "Politicians need to do more to stand up to big business and the super-rich," she said. "We must also give workers the power to force employers to share pay more fairly throughout their organization." So: decent unions and the impossible dream of politicians who don't live in the pocket of big corporations. That is our only hope.

These Fat Cat/average salary comparisons only apply to those earning above and beyond a living wage, though; an Office for National Statistics survey last year estimated that 583,000 Britons were working zero-hour contracts, with many of them working two separate zero-hour jobs to cover costs. It's thought there are around 1,386,000 minimum wage jobs in the UK, for which those over the age of 21 earn $10 per hour. And that's not to mention all the temporary minimum wage jobs taken in desperation that exploit a "probation period" loophole to pay below minimum wage for the first 20 hours of employment. Based on working eight-hour days, five days a week, straight-up no-messing minimum wage workers would earn $18,378 before tax each year, or "about ten hours of FTSE 100 CEO pay."

How to make politicians make this a priority? Making minimum-wage or public-sector job experience a requirement for anyone running for Parliament is one idea ; a more-than-$12-an-hour-by-2020 minimum wage pledge would also be useful; and more robust tax legislation for corporations would also help keep CEO salaries down, if only a little. Until then, enjoy your corned beef sandwiches and heart-attack landlord phone calls. HAPPY JANUARY.

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