Today, 9 January 2020, the boss of a major company will have earned as much as the average employee can expect to make for the whole of the year.
That’s the calculation carried out by the left-wing workers’ party PVDA, based on the remuneration for the CEOs of Bel-20 companies as published by the Vlerick Business School.
The Vlerick study looked at the salary gap between CEOs of the top companies and their employees. Between 2014 and 2018, CEOs saw their remuneration increase by 16%, while the pay of their employees went up by only 5.5%. Having said that, in 2018 CEO pay fell, from €2.07 million in 2017 to €1,875 in 2018. And 2019 is likely to see another fall.
“In times of child poverty, housing crisis and pay freezes, the debate on the growing wage gap is now more than ever on the agenda,” said the PVDA member of parliament, Peter Mertens. “Many employees find it difficult to make ends meet until the end of the month, while a small group of top managers help themselves to generous pay rises, bonuses and dividends. The tension has become ridiculously strong.”
Mertens is arguing for Belgian companies to publish at least the spread in pay packages, as is already mandatory in the Netherlands. The party is also calling for an end to pay freezes, and an increase in the minimum wage to €14 an hour.
At the same time, while it may take only nine days for a Belgian CEO to make what is an annual income for others, Belgium is not the worst case. The BBC recently announced that the time taken for a British CEO to do the same is only three days.
The Brussels Times