Monday, February 16, 2009


A few years ago i had my interview for my current post at the FSA. One of the questions I was asked was "How do you think you will get on with a bunch of bankers?" Well, as I often say - it was a bit of a culture shock for me, but I like to think it was more of a culture shock for them!

So I have been following the debate of the last few weeks and the comments from my bosses with interest. As a trade union negotiator when "Single Status" was being agreed, one big issue was the unfairness of bonuses that were paid to predominantly male roles such as refuse workers, as opposed to predominantly female workers, such as school meals staff. So from my perspective this current debate, which rightly points out how bonuses have fuelled a risk culture, is missing one big point. Bonuses are demonstrably discriminatory. Harriet Harman has correctly pointed this out, but her words appear to have fallen on deaf ears. We need to look at bonuses, not just in the banks in near public ownership, not just in the banks more widely, but across the board. I am pleased the EHRC are doing some work on this. Having represented a black woman banker at a hearing where the bonus system had clearly discriminated against her (interesting in the light of the revelations last week about senior bankers not being qualified, she was the only one in her department who WAS qualified, had been tipped for greatness by the press when she was in her 20s and yet had seen all her male white colleagues leapfrog over her when it came to promotion and bonuses), I had my eyes opened to how the system is open to abuse, both directly and indirectly.

Two or three days before it sunk the Titanic was warned it was approaching an ice field, ignorance, arrogance or indifference meant it ignored the warnings. Vince Cable has been a clear and lone voice about the banks and personal debt for many years. No one listened. The tragedy is that it is not the wealthy bankers who may miss out on the odd £million who will suffer, no, they will already have their lifeboats ready and their life jackets at hand. It is those (rather like the poor souls on the Titanic in third class) who bear no responsibility for this situation whatsoever, they don't have loans or mortgages or credit cards, they struggle to make ends meet already, but it is their jobs that are going and it is their futures that is being blighted.


David said...

They should have listened to Vince. He told'em. See the photographic evidence at

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