Thu, May 10, 2012 - Page 9 News List

What they say

Brendan Barber

General secretary, Trades Union Congress

Even on those rare occasions when shareholders get upset — only 18 pay reports out of the thousands voted upon in the past nine years have been rejected — the votes are not binding. If the government is pinning its hopes on shareholders to rein in top pay, then requiring remuneration reports to secure a 75 percent approval rating would be a good start. Putting workers on remuneration committees would also bring a much-needed dose of common sense to pay discussions.

Deborah Hargreaves

Director, High Pay Centre

It’s a shareholder spring. Shareholders have finally found their voice: It’s taken some time, but let’s hope it’s not the end of it. Companies should respond. Shareholders can do so much, but companies have to get their own house in order.

Companies have to realize they’re operating in a very different climate. Families are struggling to make ends meet. These rewards are not merited in any sense by company performance; companies need to build trust among the public.

Joanne Segars

CEO, National Association of Pension Funds

Pension funds have always tried to take this issue seriously. What I hope now is that we see action from companies. [Recent events do] show that pension funds take this seriously and that we have been putting increased focus on this since the crisis.

I don’t think pension funds are acting now [just] because the politicians are now interested in this. Quite clearly there are number of companies where performance doesn’t justify [the pay]. I don’t think this is a blip.

Simon Walker

Director-general, Institute of Directors

It is shareholder activism. It’s blossoming and spring is the right word as it’s not a summer yet. To me it’s capitalism renewing itself. Those of us who believe in free markets ought to be shouting from the rooftops. It’s happening now because times are tough. When there is a boom and money seems to be pouring in, I think people are less inclined to ask hard questions. When a company’s value is eroding, of course people, because of human nature, are going to be far more aggressive asking where the money is going.

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