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Should companies change the way they are run?

04:11 UK time, Monday, 25 October 2010

David Cameron has called for a new "economic dynamism" in a speech to the CBI in central London. Is it time for a corporate rethink?

In his first speech to the CBI since becoming prime minister, he said the government would offer help to ensure new companies can prosper.

The business group CBI has said that the UK will need to work hard to maintain its position against rising global competition for business investment, and that it needs to cut regulation and reduce both business and personal taxation.

How should companies change the way they are run? Should shareholders have more power? Should the government cut regulation? How can the UK remain attractive to investors?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Although short term hedge funds may have bought in heavily to Cadbury at the end, long term shareholders would probably still have sold Cadbury willingly to the highest bidder. What is required is for Government to intervene and to block takeovers which are against the national interest.

  • Comment number 2.

    I totally agree that the UK has personal and business tax too high and is far to keen on regulating every aspect of life.

    We are over-taxed, under-represented and over-governed. Time for government to back off.

    Shareholders should have a lot more power. But the *actual* shareholders, not the people running the pension funds on behalf of investors. Even without that, greater shareholder power is better as it should stop boards rewarding themselves to the cost of the employees, the shareholders, the business and consumers as a whole.

    Golden parachutes should go, but not through regulation, through pressure from shareholders not to reward failure.

  • Comment number 3.

    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.

    Seventh, gag Vince Cable. The last sensible thing he said was to compare Gordon Brown variously to Stalin and Mr Bean.

  • Comment number 4.

    @3 MellorSJ

    Now, I appreciate that you have listed ways to make the UK more attractive to business there, but are you going to try and argue that those are actions we should actually take?

    Because at-will employment law in the states is a grossly unfair move that put back workers rights by a long way.

    We don't need to become French in our employment laws, but respect for the rights of the employee (which most people will always be) is essential and one of the things the UK has right at the moment.

    To continue your list of things that would make the UK more attractive to employers - taking away the minimum wage, removing all health and safety restrictions, allowing indentured servitude and corporal punishment. All these things would be favourable, but as far as I'm concerned we don't want to turn ourselves into the US, let alone china.

    Lord knows I don't want to get to the situation where you get two weeks 'vacation' in a year and are expected to put in 60+ hour weeks, or you'll be at-will fired.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think we should protect UK businesses. In this globalised world this can be very difficult. Certainly any UK company that has had a government loan or subsidy should have it signed in a contract that they cannot sell the company abroad without government approval. We mustn't allow any more Cadbury or utility company sales abroad.

  • Comment number 6.

    Our Company is a large construction company. We are struggling in the current climate, but have re-structured and re-assessed our position in the market and our approach to work-winning. However, our main ethos, top priority and strongest core value is the safety of our staff. The government should be doing more to help large UK companies (we are not foreign-owned) to thrive, and therefore create jobs. Our takeovers of smaller companies has always proven to be in our best interests and, more importantly, the interests of the company taken over.
    The recent announcement securing infrastructure projects is a good start (for us), and will enable us to recruit 2-3,000 more staff over the next couple of years. A lot more could be done to halt the outflow of good companies to more economically-friendly countries.
    Shareholders should have a say in Company management, as their interests are deeply affected by a company's performance.

  • Comment number 7.

    Its a simple case of the bosses have got it wrong but are to powerful to be told.
    Britain has always been a country of innovation and it still is if it wasnt for the fact that people at the top take to many wrong dicisions.
    Large companies should do what is right for the country not the company. We hear endlessly that companies are in it for the long haul. Then start practicing this. and as the country gets stronger so will the companies and Britain will regain its international reputation but two things stop this, the overwhelming reaction to greed and the fast buck and letting other nationals enter this country to poach our achievments.

  • Comment number 8.

    Tell you what I would like to see from big companies and corporations, a bit more honesty, I know its dreadfully old fashioned to think that anything near the truth might be helpful to anyone but trust me it is. these companies have a policy of denying anything and everything and then blatantly lying to customers, this then filters down through their ranks until they end up at the very bottom of the ladder with people like those on the apprentice. Brazenly lying and utterly useless. If I ran my business in this way I would be bust in days, these big companies need to understand that just because they have plenty of money, and can cheat and lie their way out of pretty much anything, including paying UK tax does not make them hero's or clever. In the eyes of many ordinary people, the ones the big boys are ripping off it makes them underhand and duplicitous and it seems to rub off on everyone in their organisation, its simply not good enough.

    Forget about who votes for who if someone wants to go shopping, how about banging there heads together and teaching them some manners and grace to start with, this nastiness that has crept into UK business is somewhat distasteful to those of us who were brought up with the idiom to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.

  • Comment number 9.

    Gothnet asks: "Now, I appreciate that you have listed ways to make the UK more attractive to business there, but are you going to try and argue that those are actions we should actually take?"

    I most certainly am.

    "Because at-will employment law in the states is a grossly unfair move that put back workers rights by a long way."

    Why would it be unfair?

    "We don't need to become French in our employment laws, but respect for the rights of the employee (which most people will always be) is essential and one of the things the UK has right at the moment."

    No problem. But the ability to fire people when the business has difficulties means that businesses are more likely to hire.

    "To continue your list of things that would make the UK more attractive to employers - taking away the minimum wage,"

    Excellent idea. Why didn't that occur to me?

    "removing all health and safety restrictions, allowing indentured servitude and corporal punishment. All these things would be favourable, but as far as I'm concerned we don't want to turn ourselves into the US, let alone china."

    I would not agree with that at all. But you're welcome to make your own list :)

    "Lord knows I don't want to get to the situation where you get two weeks 'vacation' in a year and are expected to put in 60+ hour weeks, or you'll be at-will fired."

    The reason the US has such appallingly low levels of vacation time is because of the insane burden placed on businesses to provide certain benefits. These are "per person" costs, and so it is advantageous to have as few employees as possible and have them work as many hours as possible.

    Chief among these (not a government mandate, though I have no first-hand knowledge of Obamacare) is the expectation that a business will provide health care. One company of which I have direct knowledge spent $10,000 per employee last year. Add two employees at 30 hrs/week (the usual number for access to a health-care plan) and it costs you $20k. get a worker to work 60 hrs/week and it costs you $10k.

    This specific issue does not pertain in the UK. But I'm sure there are similar types of burdens here.

  • Comment number 10.

    @9 MellorSJ

    At-will employment is nothing to do with companies being able to slim down when they have a hard time of it, and is everything to do with being able to get rid of people for no reason at all.

    Boss having a bad day? It turns out your religion is the wrong one? Any number of other petty things.

    That's what makes it a bad thing and unfair. Redundancy in the UK is already not that tricky for a company if it's genuinely a case of hardship or removal of functions within the business. If it's not genuine redundancy there should at least be a good reason to get rid of someone.

    I agree it would make the UK attractive to business. But making ourselves attractive to business should not mean sacrificing our hard-won employee rights.

    As for the US, no, it's not high per-employee costs as compared to the rest of the world that keeps the hours up and the vacation low, it's because they can. it's because the culture of the US has the balance far more in favour of the employer than the employee. It is done because it can be done and people have no recourse if they want a job.

  • Comment number 11.

    #3 and #9 MellorSJ;

    Are we really meant to take seriously the prescriptions of a person who thinks that a question beginning "how....?" ("How can companies change the way they are run?") can be meaningfully answered with the single word "Possibly"?

    To coin an entirely original phrase: if you like American employment law so much, why don't you go and live there?

  • Comment number 12.

    The Board of some Companies, particularly Banks, have acted like pirates without reference or due consideration to their shareholders. This is often tolerated until the muck hits the fan. So, yes, the Board needs to be held in check.
    The UK is attractive for business investment because there is less red tape compared to, say, other European countries.

  • Comment number 13.

    Germany has the "VW-Gesetz" (VW Law). Basically it prohibits the acquistion of a significant German company by a foreign owner. "But that is entirely contrary to the Treaty of Rome" I hear you say. Well you're right - but the Germans are keeping it because it suits them. Would that our Govt had this sort of resolve.

  • Comment number 14.

    Gothnet makes two unfounded assertions with: "At-will employment is nothing to do with companies being able to slim down when they have a hard time of it, and is everything to do with being able to get rid of people for no reason at all.

    Boss having a bad day? It turns out your religion is the wrong one? Any number of other petty things.

    That's what makes it a bad thing and unfair. Redundancy in the UK is already not that tricky for a company if it's genuinely a case of hardship or removal of functions within the business. If it's not genuine redundancy there should at least be a good reason to get rid of someone.

    I agree it would make the UK attractive to business. But making ourselves attractive to business should not mean sacrificing our hard-won employee rights."

    At-will employment means exactly what it says. Do you really believe that a business will spend the time and money to recruit and train someone only to fire them on a whim? That business would not be one for long!

    But let's (perhaps?) agree that the ability to fire someone at minimum cost will make a business more likely to take the risk of hiring someone in the first place.

    "As for the US, no, it's not high per-employee costs as compared to the rest of the world that keeps the hours up and the vacation low, it's because they can. it's because the culture of the US has the balance far more in favour of the employer than the employee. It is done because it can be done and people have no recourse if they want a job."

    You have any evidence for this? In my experience, it is simply (a) what I said, and (b) tradition in a hard-working country.

    My own (US-based) company offered four weeks off (+ statutory days), and the option of taking unpaid leave, with sufficient notice. That may sound like hardly a gift, but when those fixed costs are taken into account, it actually costs quite a lot.

  • Comment number 15.

    john sopwith wrote: "To coin an entirely original phrase: if you like American employment law so much, why don't you go and live there?"

    Got the T-shirt.

    Only in the UK for family reasons :)

    Now, do you want the make the UK more friendly to business, or do you just want to throw insults about? Hmm?

  • Comment number 16.

    Seems ok in principle, but expect the big bosses to stump their feet and get things "unchanged".

  • Comment number 17.

    Business Secretary Vince Cable is to call for a comprehensive rethink about how UK companies are run. Is it time for a corporate rethink?

    ---

    Of course its time for a rethink, the current trend of businesses working on an unsustainable model of ever-increasing profits and economic Darwinism, verging on corporate cannibalism, alongside he development of certain industries into unofficial cartels and oligarchies are obviously not in the interests of Society as a whole.

    However as was made clear both before and after the election through letters from 'business leaders' offering unconditional support for the conservative party and by the pre-election deal with Newscorp, the Conservative party is far to cozy with big business to ever be able halt the current trend of the largest corporations, such as utility companies and banks, treating the public like a cash cow, to milked until dry.

  • Comment number 18.

    @14 Mellor SJ

    You can already get rid of employees who are incompetent and you can make people redundant that you don't need, here in the UK. That is a fact. At-will simply removes employee protection and removes the need for the company to have a reason to get rid of someone.

    This is a bad thing for the worker. Many things that are good for the worker are bad for the company, and vice-versa. This is one that I believe the UK to have right. You are entitled to think otherwise.

    And whether I believe a company would invest in training someone (fat chance of that these days) only to fire them again - why leave that to the discretion of the company?

    And as for the second part -

    "You have any evidence for this? In my experience, it is simply (a) what I said, and (b) tradition in a hard-working country."

    The US? A hard working country? Ha!

    From personal experience and from my father's (insurance exec for a string of large multinationals) the output from the US is lower than most of Europe, they just have a culture of showing up for long hours because it's expected.

  • Comment number 19.

    The problem with shareholders having more power is a double edged sword.They should have power to veto poor decisions but also be aware that to get more and more dividends you need to invest not just off load staff and dont the company bosses just love to quote the dividend issue when rushing off to cheap production countries.We all recognise that companies run on a global basis but they quickly hide behind the same old arguments when off loading production or services to places where labour and tax rules are more favourable or should we say bargain basement.If companies want to have favourable trading in the UK (which they do)they must invest in the UK.Government in turn needs to offer the carrot and stick approach.Favourable tax breaks only if investment and employment is concentrated in the UK and more rules,taxes etc; where the company just wants to exploit the UK market by using sweat shop labour in far eastern outlets to line investors pockets.What all companies should remember whether they like it or not is it should be a priviledge to make and sell goods/services in the UK-its not a god given right.There are 60m people in the UK and between them they are the UK not the few companies who merely operate here.So it should be profit with responsibility not rip off at any cost.

  • Comment number 20.

    Clearly something has to be done to get the country back on course,however,the CBI is somewhere to the right of Ghenis khan, left to their own devices "Business Leaders" in this country would love to implement a maximum wage of 50 pence per hour and increase the working day to 23 hours, abolish all holidays and any regulations that protect a submissive workforce. British "Business Leaders" are without a moral compass and to rely on their outpourings as a solution to the problem is as sound as putting Dracula in charge of the Blood Transfussion Service. British Bussiness Leaders" care nothing for this country as long as they can make vast profits and avoid paying taxes, whilst castigating the workforce for being "idle" The CBI is the last organisation that should be consulted and the servile coverage of it's ramblings by the BBC is a disgrace.

  • Comment number 21.

    Should companies change ...? of course they should. We must ensure that the present micro-management from central government is curtailed. We should take a leaf out of the French and German books and be nationalistic over our own companies, (sod the EU rules, they do).
    ALL our managers must be formally trained in the art of resource manipulation, (good management has to be learnt it is not inherited!)
    Vince Cable has not the grounding to lecture the populance on good use of resource.

  • Comment number 22.

    When I last looked the western world was seething at how corporations had been complicit in the collapse of global economies. There was strong language about the need for tighter controls, downsizing, greater effort to reduce human suffering at the whim of profiteering, a lockdown on fraudulent accounting, and so on. We were told this needed international effort and cooperation because much of the damage inflicted in the last decade came from offshore cheats.

    I sometimes struggle with a conceptual difference that some people have about trade union power, the so called block vote, and the big time company share holder who overthrows the irksome one time shareholder. I cannot find a difference and if one is immoral so is the other. So, for me, smaller is better. Limit shareholder ownership in all corporates so that no one individual (person or corporate entity in whatever guises) can invest more than five per cent in a listed business, and that smaller shareholders must jointly hold at least fifty percent ownership.

    There should be much greater control over businesses moving from one place to another and much greater control over wages paid, health and safety provided, and contractual rights of the workforces.

    In other words if we are going to have global economics then we must have global currency, global regulation, global unions and so on.

    Let us see how far we get with this.... I am guessing nowhere.

  • Comment number 23.

    "
    3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    "

    I like you.

  • Comment number 24.

    Gothnet writes: "And whether I believe a company would invest in training someone (fat chance of that these days) only to fire them again - why leave that to the discretion of the company?"

    Because it's their concern, not the concern of the state.

    "The US? A hard working country? Ha!"

    From personal experience and from my father's (insurance exec for a string of large multinationals) the output from the US is lower than most of Europe, they just have a culture of showing up for long hours because it's expected."

    Here, actually, you have a point. But then that merely reinforces my second point about tradition.

    In Japan, people in Tokyo can get on the train at 08:00, get to the office at 09:30, leave at 18:30 for drinks with colleagues, get back on the train at 21:00, and get home at 22:30. They are not noticeably more productive, but they do have a common view of problems/solutions that reduces conflict and makes decisions more "sticky," cutting costs significantly.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the French, with their 35 hr week, are actually very high in the productivity tables. The cost is low unemployment, because that productivity comes from efficient use of capital and reduction in employment.

    What lessons we can draw from this, I'm not sure, except, perhaps, that culture plays a large part...

  • Comment number 25.

    9. At 07:33am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    No problem. But the ability to fire people when the business has difficulties means that businesses are more likely to hire.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Erm, we already have this. It's called redundancy!

    Unless you're suggesting that, in times of trouble, businesses should just be able to fire employees at random without even a penny for their hard work and loyalty.

    If a business is struggling then maybe the company directors should question their own management skills and fire themselves for incompetence!

  • Comment number 26.

    i think Comrade Vince should move to Russia where his beliefs would be more suitable to the general concensus.

  • Comment number 27.

    "
    17. At 08:37am on 25 Oct 2010, InertiaStalls wrote:

    Of course its time for a rethink, the current trend of businesses working on an unsustainable model of ever-increasing profits and economic Darwinism, verging on corporate cannibalism, alongside he development of certain industries into unofficial cartels and oligarchies are obviously not in the interests of Society as a whole.
    "

    In that case, you'll need to get rid of the WTO, World Bank, IMF etc. Because it is Globalization which drives these bodies and it Globalization which is in search of ever greater profits through, against other things, "corporate cannibalism".

  • Comment number 28.

    It often appears that large companies are run mainly for the benefit of senior managers and board members. They certainly seem to receive ridiculously large financial rewards for the, often limited, skills they deploy. There is scant regard for the shareholders' interests, let alone the employees and customers.

    I do not think giving the shareholders more power is the answer. If they think the company is being badly managed, they are more likely to sell their shares than to hang around trying to improve things.

    Works councils, representing all the employees, as in Germany, might be the answer. The employees collectively, have a very complete understanding of the way the business works and are in a good position to spot the deficiencies of senior management. They also have a personal interest in the success of the company.

    All companies with more than a certain number of employees should be required by law to have a works council.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tes it is lets have them pay for their mistakes for a change why should we the public bail out badly rub banks etc?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm tired of being exploited by greedy executives. I want to see a more equitable distribution of profits. Some CEOs such as Steve Jobs (Apple) are clearly special but the majority don't deserve the millions they receive.

  • Comment number 31.

    3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.

    Seventh, gag Vince Cable. The last sensible thing he said was to compare Gordon Brown variously to Stalin and Mr Bean.

    =========================================

    Basically turn ourselves into Pakistan, or Gary, Indiana USA

    Some business/economic plan!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Kuradi Vitukari wrote:

    "
    3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    "

    I like you."

    Careful there, Kuradi!

    The leeches will be all over you. Like, er, leeches.

  • Comment number 33.

    "
    25. At 09:02am on 25 Oct 2010, rightofleft wrote:

    If a business is struggling then maybe the company directors should question their own management skills and fire themselves for incompetence!
    "

    Personally I'd say they should throw themselves of the tallest building, but here they'd be "rewarded" by their failure with a hansom golden goodbye plus inflation proof, gilt edged pension.

  • Comment number 34.

    "
    26. At 09:02am on 25 Oct 2010, essexash wrote:

    i think Comrade Vince should move to Russia where his beliefs would be more suitable to the general concensus.
    "

    Why would he want to go to one of the worlds quickest expanding free-markets?

  • Comment number 35.

    3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote a load of irrational delusional nonsense again!

    OK Mellors, you see the truth is our business class and corporate parasites are singularly the laziest, most dimwitted bunch of little thugs one could possible imagine! They survive through nothing more original than nepotism and cronyism....as a 'collective' of networked, connected imbeciles, they are singularly the most incompetent, morally bankrupt and corrupt bunch of fools!

    I suggest you go and investigate HOW business functions in successful economies like Germany! They seem to get it right......do the right thing for the right reasons...As I have said before WE should be aspiring to emulate the best not seek to compete with the worse! You appear to blindly follow an ideologically driven mystic irrational drivel for the fulfilment of nonsensical whims, desires and mindless wishes for reality to be as you imagine would be of benefit to you personally, while disregarding the necessary elements of a fully functioning economy! I guess you think the USA provides the way forward....well have a closer look at the USA - GHOST Towns and economic oblivion is their future - you can join them if you desire but it ain't capitalism and it ain't rational!

    And you are a fool, if you really think more of the same is the solution! Making the UK 'attractive to business' based on irrational nonsense - is suicide and our 'thatcherite' high priests have been driving our economy closer tot he ZERO for decades now! Look around you - it DOES NOT WORK! Our economic reality is a consequence of thatcherite, Freidmanite, Reaganomics - Its a disaster and you know it! Germany and France REJECTED the Mad Hatter teas party during the 80's and never took the USA path to misery, social destruction and de-regulation - And oh what a surprise - they are the most robust economies in Europe, if not the world!

    Bottom line is, during the financial crisis the German government in 'cooperation' with unions and business adopted a short working, wage subsidy to assist business - so few businesses had to resort to cutting employee numbers! They protected their industry during the down turn and CONSIDERED the LONG TERM! And 'agreed' regulation makes it expensive to make folk redundant. Oh and guess what, German employers actually value their employees! The whole exercise is predicated on the idea of 'protecting' jobs.....Well that appeared to be quite successful! And does not act as a barrier to successful business or investment! In fact, when European companies are looking as mitigating economic 'shocks' they look to make UK employees redundant first, or close business in UK first - WHY because it is cheaper, and they KNOW German government and other European countries will do what is necessary to protect jobs in their country!

    The British on the other hand will sacrifice there OWN people first, and move production to Asia rather than do the right thing for the right reasons! Well, I really look forward to the future of the UK - a desolate, third world nation, with no real business, no real investment and no real jobs - all because our political cliques and our business buffoons - NEVER seem capable of doing the right thing for the right reasons.....they are collectively a disgrace - a bunch of dimwitted little thugs masquerading as capitalists!

  • Comment number 36.

    rightofleft writes: "If a business is struggling then maybe the company directors should question their own management skills and fire themselves for incompetence!"

    Good grief! Every visit to HYS impresses me with the complete lack of reality for most of the posters.

    Listen up now: Market conditions change, and when they do, companies go out of business. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can divine the future and plan to shift the business. But that's difficult. It's hard to shift business models (and the employees that live within them); it's hard to develop new skills and attitudes; it's hard to enter a new market.

    Not only that, but what do think happens when the Board fires itself (fat chance of that, but never mind)? Think now. Think hard ....

    You got it! EVERYONE loses their job!

    Good grief.

  • Comment number 37.

    "
    24. At 09:01am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    In Japan, people in Tokyo can get on the train at 08:00, get to the office at 09:30, leave at 18:30 for drinks with colleagues, get back on the train at 21:00, and get home at 22:30. They are not noticeably more productive, but they do have a common view of problems/solutions that reduces conflict and makes decisions more "sticky," cutting costs significantly.
    "

    So how come the Japanese economy has pretty much been in stagnation for the past 20 years? "sticky" wages and prices are big factors in this type of economic stagnation, even with periods of deflation!

  • Comment number 38.

    Yes reform of Britain's business methods is long overdue. The practice of selling companies to someone who buys them by borrowing leads to the removal of the companies assets. Businesses need more long term planning with cooperation and cross holding of shares between banks and manufactures. We need planning to ensure that we have cheap energy to ensure basic industries survive worldwide competition such as steel and chemical plants, it does nothing for climate change to move production abroad if you believe in man made climate change. We need transport systems that are fast to move goods cheaply and quickly within the UK and not just set up for imports. We need a tax system that encourages investment in new factories, not offices, and machinery and plant and only penalises those that remove money from industry. We need to reduce the incentive to become a lawyer or doctor and increase it to become an engineer, maybe free university courses for engineers and expensive ones for lawyers. Remember nothing has ever been created by a lawyer or doctor and good health owes more to development of clean water, sewage systems and improvements in farm yields than health services.
    But of course nothing will be done as parliament is run for the benefit of lawyers. To see how Britain will fair if current policies, the last 100 years, continue just look at the history of the decline of the Roman Empire or how China declined for centuries before its recent growth and increase in wealth through manufacturing.

  • Comment number 39.

    "
    35. At 09:22am on 25 Oct 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The British on the other hand will sacrifice there OWN people first, and move production to Asia rather than do the right thing for the right reasons! Well, I really look forward to the future of the UK - a desolate, third world nation, with no real business, no real investment and no real jobs
    "

    Pretty much sums up today, not the future.

  • Comment number 40.

    In all discussions of this nature, the investors receive major consideration but they don't generate the income of a business, the employees do. Why shouldn't they have a say?
    Peter D South Carolina

  • Comment number 41.

    The major problem with large UK companies is that the majority of shares are held by pension funds using your and my money.

    However, we get no vote in how the companies are run. These fall to a handful of fund managers who are in league with the directors of the companies our money is invested in. There is a cosy cartel whereby ridiculous bonuses and harmful strategic decisions are voted through, in return for which the companies place their pension funds with the cooperative fund managers.

    There is, of course, also the possibility that there may be other incentives falling to the fund managers - but we won't go there will we?

  • Comment number 42.

    · 3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.

    Seventh, gag Vince Cable. The last sensible thing he said was to compare Gordon Brown variously to Stalin and Mr Bean.


    ##########################

    What you mean is “Lets introduce slavery at birth for the plebs” like me?

  • Comment number 43.

    Kuradi writes: "So how come the Japanese economy has pretty much been in stagnation for the past 20 years? "sticky" wages and prices are big factors in this type of economic stagnation, even with periods of deflation!"

    I didn't say it was good, or even a determining factor. In fact, I merely made the observation, and then wondered how it might affect the productivity of their economy.

  • Comment number 44.

    40. At 09:31am on 25 Oct 2010, Peter Dewsnap wrote:
    In all discussions of this nature, the investors receive major consideration but they don't generate the income of a business, the employees do. Why shouldn't they have a say?
    Peter D South Carolina


    Because the employees don't have a clue how to run a business. That's why they're employees Peter.

  • Comment number 45.

    Rethink? A great many companies will have enough to think about very soon. They'll be fighting just to survive once the cuts bring the catastrophic economic downturn which now seems inevitable.

  • Comment number 46.

    David Cameron's speach about trade and how little we do with BRIC countries. The fact is that these countries are VERY corrupt and money is required to lubricate business. The ethics of the British and the destructive power of the naive left and media will not allow that, so we steer clear of those countries. I wonder how that can be overcome?

  • Comment number 47.

    31. At 09:14am on 25 Oct 2010, you wrote:
    3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.

    Seventh, gag Vince Cable. The last sensible thing he said was to compare Gordon Brown variously to Stalin and Mr Bean.

    =========================================


    Basically, turn the UK back to times of Surfs, basically enhanced slavery.

    What Britain simply needs is more LOYAL business people, people who will not sell their nation down the road for a quick personal profit.

    What Britain also needs is much STRONGER protectionist legislation and or just pro Beritish protectionist government.

    It seems to work for China, USA, Germany, France, India and many other countrys.

  • Comment number 48.

    I've never really got involved enough in this area to make a valid point, other than politically. So I won't comment.
    But in a connected area, (very loosely I agree) it has been stated that i) the public sector must suffer the same as the private sector in terms of job losses etc.
    ii) the private sector will create enough jobs in the foreseeable future to absorb the half a million public sector job cuts.
    All ok so far. But what about the half a million private sector job cuts (see i) above); are we talking about at least a million extra jobs or am I just being silly?

  • Comment number 49.

    One things certain, the selling of the family silver to foreign owned companies shouldn't be allowed. It's not fair practice for foreign owned companies to buy companies such as cadbury's, Rolls Royce etc only to then shift production and the expertise and the profits abroad.

  • Comment number 50.

    The biggest difference to company law that would have the greatest effect is also the simplest - make it mandatory that businesses pay their invoices on time! There is once large High St chain who's policy is to pay invoices on 120 days, which in my view is absolutely criminal. i won't say who they are, but if they tried that on me I'd tell them to get on their bike, which they sell plenty of...

  • Comment number 51.

    Kuradi Vitukari wrote:

    "
    35. At 09:22am on 25 Oct 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The British on the other hand will sacrifice there OWN people first, and move production to Asia rather than do the right thing for the right reasons! Well, I really look forward to the future of the UK - a desolate, third world nation, with no real business, no real investment and no real jobs
    "

    Pretty much sums up today, not the future."

    You simply have to face up to reality: Asia wants to eat your lunch.

    You have two options. One is to ignore this and keep going on about "fairness" and "the right thing for the right reasons."

    The second is to reduce costs until you can compete. That doesn't mean you have to fire people, or reduce wages to 50p/hr. It does mean that you face up to the problem. And if you can't .... watch the jobs move to Asia.

  • Comment number 52.

    42. At 09:40am on 25 Oct 2010, Helen of Tadcaster wrote:
    · 3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.

    Seventh, gag Vince Cable. The last sensible thing he said was to compare Gordon Brown variously to Stalin and Mr Bean.


    ##########################

    What you mean is “Lets introduce slavery at birth for the plebs” like me?

    ------

    In fairness he wants slavery for himself as well.

    Thats the sick thing about the tories, they've got all these supporters who they've convinced to vote against their own self-interests.

    They all think that they are part of the 'few' that really benefit from modern business practises, when in actual fact they are part of the 'many' who are feeding the parasites.

  • Comment number 53.

    Helen of Tadcaster writes: "What you mean is “Lets introduce slavery at birth for the plebs” like me?"

    What I mean is plain to read. I mean that you either provide value, or you don't.

    And if you don't, the folks in Asia will take your lunch, and the UK will go bust.

    Then, if you can't provide value, you'll be living in a slum in the outskirts of Mumbai, er, I meant, Manchester.

  • Comment number 54.

    Messages by MellorSJ

    It may have escaped your notice old son, but the British Isles are European islands. We're not - thanfully - the 51st state of the Union -yet!

    Our culture - business and otherwise - is European, not American - whether you like it or not. Not been to the USA myself but many of my friends and acquaintances have. What they say is they go to the USA expecting it to be some recognisable version of the UK. To their surprise it's nothing of the kind. In fact they say their visit(s) reinforce for them how truly 'European' the UK is. So it's no real surprise that we do things (inc business) differently here, - is it?.

    What also seems to have escaped your notice is that we're in the EU. I'm no expert but I don't think all these changes you advocate will be allowed as long as we're members of the EU.

    You can legitimately argue that we should get out of the EU of course - you probably do. But I do hope that you're not one of these chappies who thinks that the UK can do what William Hague is kidding on that we can do. I.E., negotiate new rules for ourselves within the EU. Can't say I've heard much in the way of agitation from the citizens of Europe wanting out of the rules governing minimum wage, paid holidays, workers rights etc.

  • Comment number 55.

    Good news, this is what this country has needed for years, a pro business government. After too many years of a 'government' who thought money grew on the Magic Money Tree and had the economics of CBebbies, lets get OUR country back to making wealth and THEN will can distribute it.

  • Comment number 56.

    Msg 41. At 09:39am on 25 Oct 2010, chiptheduck wrote:

    "There is, of course, also the possibility that there may be other incentives falling to the fund managers - but we won't go there will we?


    If you want to avoid being sued for libel you'll certainly not be going anywhere near it.

  • Comment number 57.

    lol

    IT'S TOO LATE.

    Government has abandoned every industry we every excelled at.

    Coal. Steel. Shipbuilding. Engineering. Cars. Textiles. Aircraft. Science. Agriculture. Chemicals. Computing.

    Any remaining splinters of excellence are now being flogged off to foreigners, like Cadbury, and asset stripped.

    Now the zero wealth creation jobs in government departments have to go as well because there aint no-one left to pay the taxes needed to support these jobs.

    So government puts everyone on the dole...then fills the country with millions of cheap labour immigrants from europe and around the world.

    Next on the hit list is the NHS and the welfare state.

    We can't afford them now because unlike places such as France and Germany, we didn't support the wealth creation part of our infrastructure, we let it all crumble.

    Whenever you vote for the current crop of political parties you're no smarter than a Turkey who votes for Christmas.

  • Comment number 58.

    Reducing employers' obligations to employees only makes it more convenient to allow personal bias and discrimination in managerial decision making.

    At will hire and fire? Ludicrous idea, work hard, serve the company well, manager doesn't like the look of you? fired.

    It's good form to have a solid reason to let someone go and if it's genuinely in the interest of the business, you've no reason to fall foul of current legislation.

    At will hire and fire only opens the door to bad decision making.

  • Comment number 59.

    44. At 09:44am on 25 Oct 2010, chiptheduck wrote:
    40. At 09:31am on 25 Oct 2010, Peter Dewsnap wrote:
    In all discussions of this nature, the investors receive major consideration but they don't generate the income of a business, the employees do. Why shouldn't they have a say?
    Peter D South Carolina


    Because the employees don't have a clue how to run a business. That's why they're employees Peter.

    That is not necessarily true, Chip. You are assuming all employees are not very bright with a low standard of education. Many of us are quite the reverse and I have known many top managers (mostly accountants, by the way) who hadn't a clue as to what the company was all about.
    P Dewsnap A Met FIM C Eng.

  • Comment number 60.

    36. At 09:26am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    rightofleft writes: "If a business is struggling then maybe the company directors should question their own management skills and fire themselves for incompetence!"

    Good grief! Every visit to HYS impresses me with the complete lack of reality for most of the posters.

    Listen up now: Market conditions change, and when they do, companies go out of business. Sometimes, just sometimes, you can divine the future and plan to shift the business. But that's difficult. It's hard to shift business models (and the employees that live within them); it's hard to develop new skills and attitudes; it's hard to enter a new market.

    Not only that, but what do think happens when the Board fires itself (fat chance of that, but never mind)? Think now. Think hard ....

    You got it! EVERYONE loses their job!

    Good grief.
    --------------------------------------------
    What a complete joke!

    Any business that does not recognise the 'changing' nature of market conditions, and does not have contingency strategies to mitigate and adapt to changing market conditions does not deserve to be in business....have you never heard of Mintzberg or M.Porter, or Hamel or even Handy - Good grief indeed, If a board of Directors is so inept, incompetent and dimwitted that they cannot conceive of the possibilities of market dynamics they should not be sitting on any board! It is not difficult to adapt, innovate and change a business model to deal with new realities - if your business model has some kind of flexibility - and as for 'developing' skills and attitudes - If you invest in continual employee development and build an inclusive company structure that invests in its employees, they will all be in possession of ALL the skills and attitude required to face any eventuality!

    I actually, find your statement quite shocking - does this represent the defeatist, petrified pathetic character of our business 'leaders' ? - they should all be ashamed of themselves if this represents the level of their intellect and business skill! What a joke!

    Mellors talks nonsense - basically arguing that a failed business has nothing to do with the incompetence of the Directors!

    Economic diversity and business flexibility is the answer, business embedded in vibrant local communities is the solution - ASPIRING to be the best - not competing with the worse!

  • Comment number 61.

    Christmas is coming and grass is wet underfeet,
    If you cannot buy a turkey you cannot buy a street and lo and behold a tory santa is a corperate finance teacher on how to to buy and where to sell with no regard for crowds collecting christmas gifts at prices people can't afford.
    Apart from the turkey, not sold from frozen wonder land,there is always some clever dick who will bring chaos to Christmas for the child nobody knew.
    And the sack em jack principle is a CBI warmer sent out to uninvited guests,before conference, where vince cable will share with share holders his masterful begging bowl plea 'not to rob the kids on Christmas.No more stitched up policies.No more ice breakers,no more oil leaks, no more promisary notes,no more gun runners.

  • Comment number 62.

    Wyn writes (inter alia): "It may have escaped your notice old son, but the British Isles are European islands. We're not - thanfully - the 51st state of the Union -yet!"

    You say "thankfully." I say there are things to be learned from the US.

    The UK already has a number of exemptions from EU foolishness, and it should continue those that increase the UK's competetiveness.

    The EU has always been a dual project: Political union and a common market. I am strongly in favour of the latter, and favour the former only to the extent that it supports the latter. That is, nutso ideas like a common (high) corporation tax is completely out of the question.




  • Comment number 63.

    @3. At 06:22am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    Is it time for a corporate rethink? Never hurts to think again.

    How should companies change the way they are run? Possibly.

    Should shareholders have more power? Absolutely. Managers have far too much power--particularly to reward themselves at shareholder expense without consultation.

    Should the government cut regulation? Good grief! How can you ask such a question? OF COURSE!

    How can the UK remain attractive to investors? Let me count the ways....

    First, remove corporation tax altogether.

    Second, reduce regulation of every sort.

    Third, remove NI completely.

    Fourth, introduce "at will" hiring and firing.

    Fifth, rebalance capital gains and dividend taxation to discourage debt, and encourage long-term thinking.

    Sixth, make temporary immigration easier for highly skilled people.
    -------------------------

    In other words become a 3rd world economy where the majority of the population are basically slaves and have no rights, just finishing off the mission Thatcher embarked on in the 80s.

    Lot's of profit & cake for the already wealthy with debt & gravel for the people grinding the wealth out.

    Will we eventually need to lie down in front of tanks?

  • Comment number 64.

    This government it too weak to address anything. Big business funds the Tories - there is no way they are going to force any kind of shake up because they are too scared the big business owners would not donate to their party funds. This is all talk again from a government who has taken to "spin" way more than Tony Blair ! More talk and no action but at least it's distracting people from the cruel cuts in services, pensions and benefits.

  • Comment number 65.

    If British managers actually knew what they were doing most British industries would still be alive today.

    But Britain has a class system and your competence is irrelevant, it's your class, and the school you went to which comes first.

    The current cabinet is a great example, they nearly all went to oxford or cambridge and almost none of them have ever done a real job in their entire lives!

    They've all been taught to talk convincingly in public by their posh schooling so they sound like they might actually have a clue(i.e. they're sharp salesmen and women)...but there is no proof of competency anywhere at all after a life spent not actually working.

    Vince might actually be capable...if he is they'll not be very happy with him...and he'll either get the boot or walk out the door once he realises he's surrounded by a bunch of people who only excel at social climbing.

  • Comment number 66.

    51. At 09:55am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    //The second is to reduce costs until you can compete. That doesn't mean you have to fire people, or reduce wages to 50p/hr. It does mean that you face up to the problem. And if you can't .... watch the jobs move to Asia.///

    Absolute RUBBISH - we do not have a hope in hell of ever competing against economies like China - Its impossible to emulate their economy - its nonsense to even suggest we should or could! AND listen really carefully - GERMANY is a very successful economy - that is SELLING products all over the world - NOT competing with China.....but aspiring to be the BEST.....reputation, value, quality, price....we should emulate the success of Germany - Its not so difficult to manufacture and produce - it is what its all about - Its the very essence of our human nature!

    Are German Jobs going to Asia? NO - WHY because they invest in building a viable economy that produces and manufactures the best products in the world! THEY DO QUALITY - you would rather we do tat!???

    Our business leaders have NO clue! Brainless arguing we should even attempt to 'compete' with ASIA?????

    Do you not realise the massive potential for SELLING stuff to China and India?
    We could be a massive exporter of capital equipment, high tec machinery, engineering - all manner of product the Asians require, that they cannot even conceive of manufacturing themselves! WHO do you think builds all the machines to fill the factories of Asia - Its the GERMANS! We should be COMPETING with them - not seeking the ZERO in a stupid delusional belief we can reconstruct our nation as a Euro version of China or India - that is mad hatter nonsense!

  • Comment number 67.

    Peter Dewsnap writes: "That is not necessarily true, Chip. You are assuming all employees are not very bright with a low standard of education. Many of us are quite the reverse and I have known many top managers (mostly accountants, by the way) who hadn't a clue as to what the company was all about."

    Possibly.

    Then those employees should set up a competing business. And--if you're right--become a dominant player in the market.

    Or maybe they're they're just blowhards.

  • Comment number 68.

    As someone who has run his own businesses for over 40 years, I would be much relieved if successive Governments stopped tinkering with the clockwork. Every administration that states it is to 'help' business puts yet another layer of jargon and complication in the way of commerce.
    Governments are there to run the country - not run business - please stop helping before it all collapses under the strain!

  • Comment number 69.

    Ghost bloviates, well, never mind.

    The point, Ghost, is that businesses DO fail; they DO come upon hard times; they DO, in fact end up having to lose people.

    Of course, Boards/employees/responsible actors within the business do what they can to thrive, but the FACT is that sometimes it doesn't work out.

  • Comment number 70.

    Shareholders can already create binding instructions to their Board of Directors in the short term via an EGM or in the longer term by changing the company Memorandum and Articles of Association.

    Business needs people like Cable to look to their own arena and scrap existing rules from the UK and EU regulators not meddle in business by adding more rules.

  • Comment number 71.

    Dancin Pagan writes: "In other words become a 3rd world economy where the majority of the population are basically slaves and have no rights, just finishing off the mission Thatcher embarked on in the 80s."

    You people have GOT to get a grip.

    It's not me. It's not the "evil" tories. It's not Thatcher. It's not even Gordon Brown (Tony Blair/Labour--culpable though they certainly are).

    It's the FACT that Indians/Chinese etc can produce goods and services cheaper that you can.

    Face up to it.

  • Comment number 72.

    How can anything Cable says be taken seriously ? He was and still is no more than a college lecturer stuck in the time warp he used to teach in. He has the job in government now , not for his talent but to keep him on side. He comes out with the odd contentious statement now and again, to try to show he is still around and doing a bit of "deep thinking " if nothing else. If Britain cannot compete with the rest of the world business wise, then no amount of attitude change will make any difference, wages are business' single biggest cost,and only when this bill is reduced, will we compete.

  • Comment number 73.

    How many shareholders are in a position - in terms of intellectual capacity, understanding of the business in question or time - to take a more active role in the management of the company in which they hold shares?

  • Comment number 74.

    Hands up those taking part in this erm...debate, that actually run a business. (Holds hand up).

  • Comment number 75.

    I am 66 years of age and throughout my working life I have watched as 'managers' believed that they new better than those who worked at the sharp end of industry.
    I have watched whilst they ignored advice from the shop floor that the machines that they were buying were not up to the expectations of the 'managers' who sneered at those who had the skills and the knowledge to make valid judgments.
    Because of this incompetence I was made redundant three times as they tried to protect their own positions and the admission that they were incompetent.
    I have watched as German engineers put in place machinery only to be told by these engineers that did our management not understand that this was the wrong machine for the job it was supposed to do?
    Managers in the UK are more interested in the company car and how much they can get out of the firm than any interest in production or getting their hands dirty.
    It's a UK 'thing' this belief that you aspire to a position off the shop floor and into the realm of ''management.'
    There are always the exceptions but I am afraid that they are few and far between.
    The shop floor in British industry is seen as a place for the under achievers and failures, not as the source of the firms very existence.
    It's a mindset that is endemic in lots of companies and I am afraid that they still believe that the UK is superior to all other countries..even though they refuse to admit the obvious and blame the 'unions', the 'scroungers', the 'work shy', the 'lazy British workers' the 'minimum wage' and any other excuse that deflects from their own incompetence.

  • Comment number 76.

    No one can actually be this dense Galt writes, well, again, why make you all suffer?

    OBVIOUSLY, it's not all about cost. Germany provides high-cost AND HIGH-VALUE products. Great. That's how it works.

    Once upon a time, the US made televisions. Then Japan did, and put the US TV industry out of business. Then the Koreans made them, and put Japan out of business. Now the Chinese ...

    What it boils down to is providing value. That's why the "we used to MAKE things!" mantra is a complete nonsense.

    Germany provides value from high quality and precision instruments. The UK doesn't have those skills.

    Either develop them, or drop costs. If you don't like that prescription, try selling advertising or --gasp!-- banking.

  • Comment number 77.

    "
    51. At 09:55am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    Kuradi Vitukari wrote:

    "
    35. At 09:22am on 25 Oct 2010, The Ghosts of John Galt wrote:

    The British on the other hand will sacrifice there OWN people first, and move production to Asia rather than do the right thing for the right reasons! Well, I really look forward to the future of the UK - a desolate, third world nation, with no real business, no real investment and no real jobs
    "

    Pretty much sums up today, not the future."

    You simply have to face up to reality: Asia wants to eat your lunch.

    You have two options. One is to ignore this and keep going on about "fairness" and "the right thing for the right reasons."

    The second is to reduce costs until you can compete. That doesn't mean you have to fire people, or reduce wages to 50p/hr. It does mean that you face up to the problem. And if you can't .... watch the jobs move to Asia.
    "

    My point is, this is already happening, companies have been shifting production away from he UK for years. My issue, that's Globalization is a race to the bottom and outsourcing to other parts of the world achieves that. In the past it was Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan, now it's India & China; in 10 years it will be likes of Ethiopia.

  • Comment number 78.

    69. At 10:36am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    ///Ghost bloviates, well, never mind.

    The point, Ghost, is that businesses DO fail; they DO come upon hard times; they DO, in fact end up having to lose people.

    Of course, Boards/employees/responsible actors within the business do what they can to thrive, but the FACT is that sometimes it doesn't work out.///

    GO and talk to the GERMANS! British business fails precisely because our business leaders and politicians are useless!

  • Comment number 79.

    Msg 62. At 10:24am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    "You say "thankfully." I say there are things to be learned from the US."

    I've no claim to omniscience so I suppose you may be right. Can't think of any myself though and the things you've quoted so far certainly don't fall into that category.

    The UK already has a number of exemptions from EU foolishness, and it should continue those that increase the UK's competetiveness.

    Hmmmm. I understand that the rebate is going soon. Hopefully to be followed by all of the other exemptions. And not before time.

    The EU has always been a dual project: Political union and a common market. I am strongly in favour of the latter, and favour the former only to the extent that it supports the latter. That is, nutso ideas like a common (high) corporation tax is completely out of the question.

    Yes - despite the best efforts of those who claim that we were conned by Ted Heath, I've been aware since my British Constitution lessons in school in 1971/72 that it's always been a political as well as an economic project.

    Unlike yourself though I'm all for a United States of Europe. Luckily, if the UK decides to abandon the project and get out, I've got a parachute - I have dual Italian/UK citizenship.

  • Comment number 80.

    Len Day asks: "Hands up those taking part in this erm...debate, that actually run a business."

    Hands up!

    Though I sold it, so now I run several personal-service businesses with no employees. (Thank pixie for that!)

    I'd like to see any of these losers actually deal with the stress of meeting their payroll.

  • Comment number 81.

    As I read the messages from Mr Big, aka Mellor, the British worker needs to do the following:

    1. Work for the smallest viable wage to support the cardboard box he or she emerges from every morning.
    2. Accept being fired as a normal consequence of working hard for a gutless boss.
    3. Not have children as these may interfere with his/her ability to be flexible at all times.
    4. Accept poor conditions, no safety regards, no health regards, as these impinge on profit.
    5. Be thankful they have a cloth cap to touch everytime the boss walks by.
    6. Expect to be fired for doing 5 and not being too busy working to notice.
    7. Expect to be fired for being too busy working to notice the boss walking by.
    8. Expect to be fired for thinking there is an alternative life available.

    The Romans did it better and called it slavery. Mr Big calls it "your lot in life".

  • Comment number 82.

    If the BCC are interested in the seriousness of this board they really should be limiting the NUMBER OF CONTRIBUTIONS people can make to any one post. This topic is a mess already because of just a few people.

    I could go on about company change for a long time, but i will just mention one aspect that many will overlook. That is the way companies treat the CUSTOMER. We are being very badly treated at the moment due to unfair and confusing price structures. For example why should a train ticket bought on the day be so much more expensive. It is not for operational reasons. Why should I have to renegotiate my utility bills, my insurances, and my repair cover every single year rather than pay the standard 30% increase they try to make. This tactic must cost the less clever and the very busy a large percentage of their wages. Similarly shops should not be allowed to get away with advertising reduction to prices (but not contents or quality) which are unreal. They should have to show the dearest and cheapest price they have been charging in the past year. One could go on, but I will just say that if business were forced to concentrate more on the way they treat the consumer, and be less content to make easy profits in the poorly regulated UK market, then it might concentrate their minds on being competitive. If they became competative in the UK, then maybe they could become competitive in the World, an the country would be solvent for a change. The regulation and moral system in the UK is far to lax for the monopolistic way our business has changed in recent years. To few companies, too many rip offs of suppliers and customers, too much government connivance. We need a root and branch rethink of company regulation.

  • Comment number 83.

    2. At 06:01am on 25 Oct 2010, Gothnet wrote:
    I totally agree that the UK has personal and business tax too high and is far to keen on regulating every aspect of life.

    We are over-taxed, under-represented and over-governed. Time for government to back off.

    Shareholders should have a lot more power. But the *actual* shareholders, not the people running the pension funds on behalf of investors.
    ##################################################

    By what means is an 'actual' shareholder different from a pension fund invester. An 'actual' shareholder may have put the only £1000 they have into shares, but they usually do it on the assumption that the share price will rise because the pension funds invest far more and the price-per-share goes up.

    And as for "I totally agree that the UK has personal and business tax too high and is far to keen on regulating every aspect of life." and "We are over-taxed, under-represented and over-governed. Time for government to back off." This is the ususal (toree) rant of the "Years ago I once paid £10 in tax because of my useless accountant and I know for a fact it was spent on the feckless" type of statement of someone who doesn't care for anyone else but their own.

    ##########################################

    Vince Cable wants companies to stop using their profits for non-core business activities. This I agree with. When a company makes profits, it pays its taxes (good) it pays its people (good) and it invests in future projects, equipment etc (also good). What it should not do is go the empire-building route of "oh my god! what am I going to do with all this profit - I know I'll buy another company and make it look like I'm a business whizz-kid" (bad).

    As commentaters have shown 90% of business take-overs do not make ANY profit on return of the investment. But it gives the illusion of profit, of progress and it drives those people who endlessly talk about business, the 'business report' programs on BBC at 5 in the morning, the business 'analysts' and spawns programs like 'The Apprentice' and 'Dragons Den'.

    The people who run business should look to people like Lord Weinstock at GEC. He used profits to buy up shares in the company and quitely liquidate them, creating a very wealthy and profitable company. It was only after he left and the 'entrepreneurs' were let loose who speculated with the cash reserves and ran down the company.

    We are talking here about society and peoples livelehoods. It should not be a businessman's toy train-set for a bunch of city-spivs to play with.



  • Comment number 84.

    It's all waffle, bait and switch tactics.

    If Vince had a clue he would have stopped this from happening, there will never be a simpler example for 'proof of competence' where Vince Cable is concerned:

    Sheffield Forgemasters' £80m nuclear parts loan axed.
    This loan would have made Forgemasters one of two plants in the world capable of producing large forgings for the nuclear energy industry.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10341119

    A slam-dunk wealth creation loan...canned by the present government...and overseen by the incredible Mr Cable.

    These people are idiots, they sure do talk good...but they all lack the foresight to be a force for a better future.

    Don't look to the government for help, do what you need to do to save yourself and your family, the ship is sinking and the keystone cops are on the bridge...again.

  • Comment number 85.

    I will sum up our nations problems in one easy to understand statement!

    Our business executive are booking flights to USA and Cayman Islands, while the Europeans are booking flights to Shanghai, Beijing and other Asia destinations! AND while our business executive source product FROM ASIA Europeans are SELLING stuff to ASIA!

  • Comment number 86.

    Megan asks an excellent question: "How many shareholders are in a position - in terms of intellectual capacity, understanding of the business in question or time - to take a more active role in the management of the company in which they hold shares? "

    Few.

    But the institutional investors do. And they have the capacity to follow through. I have yet to understand why so few do.

    My policy is to vote against management. Always. Either it's a "who cares?" siuation, or it might might just swing it.

  • Comment number 87.

    "
    49. At 09:53am on 25 Oct 2010, Toothpick Harry wrote:

    One things certain, the selling of the family silver to foreign owned companies shouldn't be allowed. It's not fair practice for foreign owned companies to buy companies such as cadbury's, Rolls Royce etc only to then shift production and the expertise and the profits abroad.
    "

    Why? Would you rather inward investment into the country stopped, because that is pretty much what you're saying. As for Rolls Royce, production is increasing and listening to the German owners recently, they made a very good case why they'd never cease production here in the UK. As for other companies moving production abroad, that happens becomes the climate here is poor for business, mostly to do with the very unfair taxation system applied against businesses which makes uneconomically to do business here.

    One day we'll learn that over taxing business is counter productive, but by then it will be too late me thinks.

  • Comment number 88.

    Business (companies) should be about the science of efficiently meeting needs while being socially responsible, instead of simply focusing solely on the Money God regardless of other consequences.

    Too many businesses deliberately abuse their staff, eg: unequal pay for women, big bonuses for the top levels only despite every ones good efforts, failure to a living wage etc etc.

    Part of the reason we have a recession is the sole pursuit of the Money God, which dictates abusing people.

    The credits and benefits paid to hard working people clearly illustrate the absurd situation where tax has to be levied from the better off to raise the incomes of hard working people on low pay, which requires extra well paid layers in the Public Sector to administer.

    Why not, simply put, tax less and raise the minimum wage? it's cheaper, you don't need the extra layers in the Public Sector.

    Excessive pay is causing structural decay in the economy, for example, the explosion in little occupied second homes causing small town and village local economies to decline.

    We really do need to rebalance the economy to make if fairer and restore local economies to strengthen the UK.

    We can also do simple things like making the same percentage of salary bonus compulsory for all employees to encourage firms to work as teams, rather than lower staff being seen as cows to milk.

    We can also legislate for the maximum pay as a factor of the lowest.

    The subject deserves a book...

  • Comment number 89.

    Business Secretary Vince Cable is to call for a comprehensive rethink about how UK companies are run. Is it time for a corporate rethink?

    Mr Cable will address the CBI annual conference and ask whether shareholders in one company should be consulted before their board buys another company - and if they should also rein in company bosses more.

    In a nutshell, Yes.
    At present it appears that UK company chief executives can pay themselves huge salaries and bonuses without taking any responsibility whatsoever when things go wrong, or serious loss of life is caused.

    I of course refer to Railtrack, followed by Network rail, where not one member of the corporate board has yet been held accountable for the deaths at Gospel Oak, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Carlisle, to name just the high profile crashes, yet the bosses of both Railtrack and Network Rail, as well as the contractual maintenance companies, yet all the chief executives still had huge bonuses - for what may I ask?, Blood?

    What should also be looked at is the way companies launch take-over bids and aggressive take over bids, where promises are made to keep 'a company going', or a factory open (Cadburies) then the new executives close it down, again with no accountability.

    Although I am now retired, I personally have been made redundant a number of times, but twice in particular where the companies - with full order books I might add - were taken over by forign comapanies following aggressive take-over bids purely to wipe out the competition, thus increasing unemployment, I am sure there must be many, many cases of this type of take over in the UK.

    Further, I cannot think of a single utility company in the UK that is wholy UK owned, can anyone? Of course the over the top profits then go abroard whilst internal re-investment into the infrastructure of the utilities company remains abismally low or in some cases non-existant.

    In my personal opinion the Railways and Public Transport generally and untility companies should never have been privatised in the first place! Far from everyone being better off (Thatchers statement on BBC news at the time) the public are being ripped off by artificialy high prices, utility suppliers no longer having to display the wholesale cost of electricity, gas, water etc. to the customer - this is totally wrong and is also one of the points that must be looked at.

  • Comment number 90.

    Msg 74. At 10:44am on 25 Oct 2010, Len Day wrote:

    "Hands up those taking part in this erm...debate, that actually run a business. (Holds hand up).

    What? Have they changed the rules or something? Are we only allowed to comment on a business issue if we run a business?

    Must have missed that one.

  • Comment number 91.

    "
    74. At 10:44am on 25 Oct 2010, Len Day wrote:

    Hands up those taking part in this erm...debate, that actually run a business. (Holds hand up).
    "

    Me and my co-founders.

  • Comment number 92.

    Simply reducing taxes does not provide a viable solution in today's globalized world. What happens is that corporate money quickly moves abroad to produce goods abroad and then individual money buys those goods causing some more money to go abroad. We do recognize that a bit of the profit usually remains behind with owners and investors. The problem is that what government spending of tax money would have accomplished at home, is no longer accomplished as the money is not there to accomplish it. Rarely, if ever, do corporations do what the government no longer chooses to do, and it then remains simply not done. The country grows poorer in consequence. What is most needed are government incentives, such as tax breaks, that encourage both investment at home, and also encourage works that benefit the greater public good. This would complement any program where the government takes on a necessary greater role, as stakeholder, in how and where money is lent out and how needed projects are financed, so as to increase its capability, without increasing its deficit, and giving it more influence over corporate and investor behavior.

  • Comment number 93.

    Business are already too shareholder-centric, and all it means is that it's too easy for foreign investors to take money out of the country.

    If anything, there should be restrictions in place to limit the amount of money passed on to shareholders.


    I'd like to believe that a company would reinvest its profits back into research & development (that which made Britain a superpower in the 18th/19th centuries), though it is far more likely that greed takes over and salaries for senior staff is further increased.


    The problem is Greed, but there is no clear solution for it.

  • Comment number 94.

    WE really need to stop the same people turning this board into a farce by repeated posting on the same topic. Limit posts to three per person per topic.
    If the UK large business was any good, why is it the worst in the World? Costs cannot be lowered any further, regulation in minimal compared to other successful countries, we have a huge pool of labour, the trade unions were broken as a force in the 1980s. The only thing which holds us back is the patheticness of UK business people who will continue to whinge, and issue threats, and cadge taxpayers cash, and blame everyone else for their lack of acumen and greed until there is nothing left.

  • Comment number 95.

    "
    71. At 10:40am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:

    Dancin Pagan writes: "In other words become a 3rd world economy where the majority of the population are basically slaves and have no rights, just finishing off the mission Thatcher embarked on in the 80s."

    You people have GOT to get a grip.

    It's not me. It's not the "evil" tories. It's not Thatcher. It's not even Gordon Brown (Tony Blair/Labour--culpable though they certainly are).

    It's the FACT that Indians/Chinese etc can produce goods and services cheaper that you can.

    Face up to it.
    "

    The race to bottom is not necessary a good thing.

    Before the advent of mass Globalization, trading used to be about producing what you're good at, sadly Britain appears to becoming good at producing nothing, not entirely the fault of our people more as a result of Government interference and high taxation.

  • Comment number 96.

    @62 MellorSJ

    "You say "thankfully." I say there are things to be learned from the US."

    I wouldn't dispute that, we can look at other economies and see what they do well and what they do badly and learn from it. I just don't think that attacking workers rights is necessarily a good way to go about it.

    Especially given that those (western/fully developed asian) economies that have much less in the way of workers rights are not necessarily doing massively better at the moment. Just look at the value of the US dollar for instance!

  • Comment number 97.

    69. At 10:36am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:
    Ghost bloviates, well, never mind.

    The point, Ghost, is that businesses DO fail; they DO come upon hard times; they DO, in fact end up having to lose people.

    Of course, Boards/employees/responsible actors within the business do what they can to thrive, but the FACT is that sometimes it doesn't work out.
    --------------------------------------------

    Obviously, sometimes business does fail - but mostly its because of incompetence....and lets face facts, British companies appear to positively seek failure! - they are singularly driven by a desire for self destruction....one wonders at the sanity of those ruining, oh I mean running our economy! ;-)

    Go to China, you will see lots of 'western companies' selling luxury to the Chinese - but hard pressed to find ANY British products! Its just pathetic!

    What are our business leaders up to - suffer from collective ineptitude...get off their fat behinds, get on a plane, open an office in Shanghai - and sell stuff to the Chinese - they want our products - they like British brand - but are happy buying 'fake' British brands produced and owned by Taiwan! Ridiculous

  • Comment number 98.

    "
    62. At 10:24am on 25 Oct 2010, MellorSJ wrote:


    The EU has always been a dual project: Political union and a common market. I am strongly in favour of the latter, and favour the former only to the extent that it supports the latter. That is, nutso ideas like a common (high) corporation tax is completely out of the question.
    "

    I can't believe you of all people are in favour of the old style "common Market", with it's EU subsidies, waste, inefficiencies, mindless bureaucracy, leading to stock piles of goods being thrown away but paid for by taxation.

    What you really mean is that you're in favour of the free trade between "Common Market" states.

  • Comment number 99.

    LKuradi writes: "My point is, this is already happening, companies have been shifting production away from he UK for years. My issue, that's Globalization is a race to the bottom and outsourcing to other parts of the world achieves that. In the past it was Mexico, Turkey, Taiwan, now it's India & China; in 10 years it will be likes of Ethiopia."

    Yup. And it is precisely that "race to the bottom" that offers UK consumers rock-bottom price for goods and (to a lesser extent) services. (Excepting Gordon's taxes, that is.)

    But Ethiopia?????

  • Comment number 100.

    Yes businesses should have a rethink.

    They should treat their ground staff with more respect and pay them a living wage. These are the people after all that the untouchables higher up rely on to get obscene salaries and the huge profits that their companies make.

    I'm sick of the people in power who care more about businesses profits than they do the people that voted them in. Why did Cameron et al write off Vodaphone's £6bn tax bill?

    I understand that thriving businesses are a postivie to the economy, but we're talking about millions of people struggling to live an ever more basic lifestyle so that huge corporations can make profits of £5bn a year instead of £4bn. This is wrong.

    Capitalism is soon to fail. America will crumble from the inside and the more we try to emulate them the faster we will too.

 

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