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Shareholder payouts growing faster than wages, says TUC

An analysis by the organisation suggests that wages have grown £510bn less than inflation, even as dividends to shareholders have grown.

16 October 2022

Shareholders have seen payouts soar £440 billion above inflation since 2008 even as wages have stagnated, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

An analysis by the organisation suggests that wages have grown £510 billion less than inflation, even as dividends to shareholders have grown.

The TUC accused the Government of failing to reform company law to ensure that workers do not lose out to shareholders.

It said that before the financial crisis payouts grew at double the rate of wages, but that has since increased, with dividends now growing at more than three times the rate of wages.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If you work for a living, you should earn a decent living. But too many businesses are lining shareholders’ pockets without giving workers a fair deal.

“British companies are being used as cash machines for shareholders – because boardrooms have been given the wrong incentives.

“When you see working people fighting for better pay, they just want a fair share of the wealth they create. But boardrooms are raiding company coffers for shareholders, instead of funding fair pay rises and investment.

“We need a government that will create a fair balance of power between workers and employers – not one that pushes pay down, attacks workers’ rights and refuses to update Victorian company laws.”

One estimate by the TUC suggests that if wage growth and dividend growth had matched inflation since 2008, cumulatively £510 billion more would have gone to wages and £440 billion less to shareholders.

The organisation is calling for seats for workers on company boards, as well as stronger pay bargaining rights and a £15 minimum wage “as soon as possible”.

The TUC puts the blame squarely on the Government, saying the figures are being “shaped by Government policy”.

“The new Prime Minister has pitched herself against Britain’s workers, calling them lazy and overpaid. And she’s planning new laws to cut workers’ rights and hold down pay,” Ms O’Grady said.

“If she drags down workers, she will drag down the economy too. To strengthen our economy, she should crack down on payouts that deprive British industry of the investment we need.”

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