>Telephone numbers!

>We are all used to hearing these days about the “fat cats” and their inflated salaries and, worse still, their ridiculously huge bonus payments.

Still, this morning’s Today programme set me thinking afresh about this. The boss of Network Rail has announced that he won’t be taking a bonus this year (even though Network Rail is apparently doing well). Hurray, we say!

Last year his bonus was £300,000. Crumbs. But he will be taking another bonus which is based on long-term successes, which last year was £200,000. And his salary? A matter of public record, he says, at £600,000.

Now I know Network Rail is a very big concern, and therefore the responsibility shouldered by the Chief Executive is massive, and these figures are cast into the shade by some we have been hearing about recently. But I can’t shake off the feeling that no-one can possibly be worth that much. After all we are only human. We can only do a certain amount of work in a week. The farmer, 1kool, at his busiest, used to do 80-90 hours most weeks, but that got a bit much once he turned 45. He didn’t have responsibility for a large number of people, but animals are more dependent than people are, for their food, water and shelter. I work 3 days a week in a school, in a support role. I have little responsibility but I still feel compelled to be conscientious in my duties. I don’t take unnecessary sick leave or claim unnecessary expenses, or spend my working hours surfing the net. Even the teachers, who earn up to 3 times what I do, are only taking away less than 10% of the salary of the Network Rail man. And no bonus, unless you count the long holidays.

My point is that even the most conscientious and hard working members of society can only dream of earning a tenth of the figures I heard on the radio this morning. There is only so much any one person can do in a day’s work.

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