Britain: Bosses bag big pay

Income Data Services has reported that heads of Britain’s 100 largest corporations got a 43 percent pay hike last year. Their average basic salary rose 9 percent to £730,796 (about $1.4 million) and bonuses tied to company profits accounted to approximately the same amount. What with other financial benefits worth £51,167 ($96,000) plus non-cash payments like share options and long-term incentive plans, they each averaged out at £2.9 million apiece ($5.4 million), about 45 percent more than last year. That’s 86 times the pay received by individual British employees.

Median pay for the top 100 U.S. chief executives in 2005 was 500 times that for individual workers, up from 35 times greater in 1970.

Britain’s best-paid businessperson in 2005 was advertising executive Sir Martin Sorrell who accumulated £17.1 million ($32.1 million). An unnamed business leader, quoted by the BBC, explained the high figures by saying “leadership skills” are in great demand.

Israel: Students refuse military service

Tel Aviv high school students Omri Evron, 19, and Lior Wolinic, 18, have opted out of Israeli military service set to begin in November. With other students, they signed a letter proclaiming their refusal to be “soldiers of the occupation” and hung anti-occupation banners from highway bridges.

At a preliminary trial for his opting out of obeying military orders, Evron, member of the Young Communist League, was sentenced to 14 or more days in a military prison. Supporters demonstrated outside the military base as his hearing began. Evron’s letter to his judges was quoted in the report; he denounced “the prolonged occupation which sows hate and terror between the two peoples.” He refused to “serve an ideology that doesn’t recognize … self determination and peaceful co-existence.” Nor would he be a “guinea pig for the arms industry, the big corporations, and all kinds of exploiting contractors that sow racism” for the sake of profits, he said.

Philippines: Bishop Ramento, gov’t critic, killed

Joined by progressives and church leaders the world over, Philippine unionists, human rights activists, and revolutionaries are mourning the Oct. 3 murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento in Tarlac City. The bishop is widely viewed as a martyr for democracy and labor rights, according to the report on

Although the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo quickly produced four youths said to have robbed and killed Ramento, critics attribute his violent death to elements enraged by his long record of support for strikers and resistance movements and his persistent denunciations of extra-judicial killings and rampant human right violations.

Ramento, the former chair of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum and the Philippine National Council of Churches, also served as Supreme Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, the largest church alternative to the Catholic Church in the Philippines and a legacy of the revolution against Spanish colonialism.

Kenya: College teachers strike over pay

Classes in at least six Kenyan public universities were paralyzed Oct. 23 when thousands of college lecturers went on strike over a pay dispute, the East African Standard (Nairobi) reported.

The strike action was most evident at Moi University, Eldoret, where over 2,000 students walked out in solidarity with the striking lecturers. But the effects were felt throughout the university system, which has an enrollment of more than 50,000 students.

Members of the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) called the strike, their third in 12 years, to demand a 700 percent increase in their salary, a role in university governance and the creation of a research fund.

The government threatened to fire the strikers, but the lecturers were not to be intimidated. In Nairobi, union officials said they would refuse to obey “colonial laws” prohibiting their action and vowed to press on.

At the Moi campus, students chanted, “Uasu Msilale Bado Mapambano” (UASU do not sleep, the struggle is on). At Kenyatta University, named after Kenya’s legendary independence leader and first president, students supporting the lecturers sang “Solidarity Forever.”

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (