Cameron Proposals Won’t Curb Executive Pay, Occupy London Says

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposals to curb executive pay are not enough, the Occupy London movement participants said at a rally today in the capital’s Canary Wharf district.

Cameron said on Jan. 8 that the current system of executive pay is wrong as it allows for failure to be rewarded and promised shareholders a binding vote on compensation decisions. Participants in today’s debate held by Occupy London outside the Financial Services Authority building said the prime minister’s suggestions will have little impact on executive pay levels.

“Giving shareholders a binding vote over executive pay won’t make a difference,” Gordon Kerr, head of banking consultancy Cobden Partners, said in an interview at the event. “Cameron’s comments were sensible, but they’re trivial details in a complex process.”

A study by the High Pay Commission, a pressure group that pushes for curbs on top earners, found British directors’ salaries increased by 64 percent over the past decade, while the average year-end share price of FTSE 100 companies fell 71 percent. U.K. unemployment is at a 17-year high.

“Cameron has addressed the peripheral issues but not the fundamental one of changing the metrics to decide what is fair pay for executives,” Peter Dombi, a private investor, said in an interview at the event. “Even if there is more transparency, the committees that decide pay will look at the market rate, not the company’s good performance, and that’s not right.”

The Occupy movement began in the U.S. with hundreds of protesters camping in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to complain about bankers’ pay, bailouts and cuts in government spending. The protests have since spread to four continents.

“We must connect the owners of capital with those that reap the rewards of that capital,” said Steve Baker, a member of Parliament for Cameron’s Conservative Party. “People should be rewarded for success rather than for a loss or failure.”