RBS bonus ridiculous as job losses bite
The huge bonus being paid to the head of the Royal Bank of Scotland has sparked widespread and justified protests. People from many backgrounds outside the City cannot understand why failure should be rewarded in this way.
Stephen Hester will receive a £963,000 bonus on top of his annual salary of £1.2m as the head of an organisation that had to be bailed out by the tax-payers at the height of the banking crisis. A bonus for its Chief Executive is merely adding insult to injury, given that branches have been closed, and a large number of other bankers have lost their jobs.
The trade union representing the Ulster Bank staff is rightly protesting on behalf of the 950 people who are losing their jobs in Ireland, including 350 north of the border. These swingeing measures follow the loss of 250 jobs here in 2009.
The redundancy terms may be even less generous this time, and it is abundantly clear that the lower paid staff are shouldering the brunt of the burden in paying for the disastrous policies of the past. Predictably Stephen Hester's bonus has triggered a tit-for-tat exchange between the main parties, with Labour leader Ed Miliband accusing Prime Minister David Cameron of "a disgraceful failure of leadership". The Tories counter this by accusing Labour of paving the way for bonuses.
This political in-fighting will not impress the public who are disillusioned and angry about the way in which the rich still reap rewards, and the less well-off continue to suffer job losses and cuts. No one outside the City will accept this argument, and least of all those people who are experiencing job losses and cuts.
At the heart of this latest bitter row is the clear question as to whether or not any individual or group of employees, however senior, should be rewarded for failure. Success should bring its own rewards and senior bankers should qualify for rewards, but only when the financial mess in the banks has been cleared up.