Monday, September 21, 2009

Pass the Barclays

Yesterday whilst sitting in the smallest room of my abode I perused a copy of a document pertaining to a Barclays PLC Annual General Meeting of some years ago. The Notice of Meeting detailed a proposed Performance Share Plan (PSP) that shareholders were to vote on at a forthcoming AGM. If approved the PSP would replace an existing Barclays Incentive Share Option Plan. The PSP, a bonus payment with a value of between 50% and 100% of the employee's salary, would awarded to (quote) 'highly marketable individuals'. It was envisaged that the bank executive directors, senior managers, and approximately 1600 other Barclay PLC employees would be eligible to receive the PSP award.

I nearly fell off of the porcelain throne when I noted, in one illustrative example of the workings of the PSP, that the base salary of an executive director was in the order of £500,000 p.a. Half a million quid! Blimey (I thought) I bet I've only earnt a fraction of that amount since pulling on long trousers, joining the workforce, and (premature) consignment to the industrial scrap heap. Subsequent calculation showed my gross income as a wage slave of 35 years, that included many periods of unemployment, was £138,000, give or take a few brass buttons.

Mind you for half a million quid that's lot of grovelling, hoop jumping, arse licking, yes sirs - no sirs, burning the candle at both ends, etc., for a Barclays PLC executive director. And besides which half a million quid does not go far nowadays what with the cost of private schooling, two weeks in the Bahamas, renovating the Provence farm, piped Bollinger, the Limo - petrol's not getting any cheaper either, etc. etc.. Yes it is a hard life for some.

The Barclays PSP smells of the age old carrot-on-a-stick device used to encourage competition amongst the workforce, that ultimately is at their cost e.g. the instigator benefits by increased production, a reduction of the workforce, and no doubt a tax lurk, etc.. Personally I can't see any logic in one teller counting bits of coloured paper faster then another teller. Paper should be put to better use.

I do not recall in my life a monetary bonus performance scheme such as the Barclays model being waved in front of my face by my previous assorted paymasters. Discounting the weekly topknot touching for a wage slave pittance it was a more stick then a carrot, a do it or else ideology with appropriate physical encouragement gleefully administered by the Sturmfuhrers in the army as well as in the workplace.

Persons who earn their daily bread by selling their labour, whether they are 'highly marketable' or not, might wake up to the absurdity of a system that pits worker against worker not only in the workplace but also on the battle field, solely for the benefit of a few. One wonders what size alarm clock is needed to wake 'em up?

Whether the Barclays PLC PSP had or had not been endorsed by the AGM I cared not, but in keeping with my philosophy of putting paper to better use, their proposal was soon behind me.

George Brunker

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