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Competition No 3889

Set by Valerie Yule, 4 July

You were asked to devise a fair way to determine the salary packets of a top chief executive and his office cleaner.

Report by Ms de Meaner

An array of highly amusing answers. J Seery, as usual, sent in wildly over the word limit and so had to be cut back. A pity, but there you are. The winners get £20, with additional Tesco vouchers going to John O'Byrne for added oomph.

In a competitive work environment, pay packets should reflect the occupational skill levels of each category of "worker".

(Score 10 for each yes and 2 for each no)

Chief executives

1. Have you walked the floor at least twice this week?

2. Did you polish your own presentation?

3. Are you in the habit of saying "done and dusted" at every meeting?

4. Have you mopped up your weakest competitor?

5. Do you often rub people up the right way?

Office cleaners

1. Have you ever shone/impressed a multiplicity of panels?

2. Do you like interfacing?

3. Can you create a clean, positive image for relevant stakeholders?

4. Have you never swept corporate dirt under the carpet?

5. Are you good at board admin support?

50-40: can do either job. CEO & OC pay levels should be the same; 39-20: possible job-sharing and pooling of pay pot; 19-0: fire OC, let CEO do cleaning.

John O'Byrne

An executive's salary structure will be based on the following test:

1. Place in order of effectiveness: Stergene, Domestos, Flash, Fairy Liquid, sugar soap.

2. Name four makes of vacuum cleaner.

3. What beats as it sweeps as it cleans?

4. Name the odd one out: Mansion, Pledge, Pride, Kiwi, Mugabe.

A cleaner's salary structure, etc:

1. Should lunch be one, two or three hours?

2. Which is not a wine-growing area: Chile, Australia, Italy, Spain, Bootle?

3. Which do you prefer, Bupa or NHS?

4. Rank in order of prestige: MCC membership, a flat in Paris, tax evasion, an affair with your secretary.

Sid Field

A solution to the problem exists - our weighted index scheme, guaranteed to reach a fair remuneration package.

Reality/Phantasy Ratio: A CEO who says: "I co-ordinate a multi-tasking, innovative approach to conceptualising of prioritised goal-setting" is further from reality and should get less than one who says: "I drive the workers as hard as hell while pulling the wool over shareholders' eyes about executive remuneration packages." A cleaner who says: "I shift the muck out of this pigsty" should, on the same basis, get more than one who says: "I organise and effect on a regularised basis a disorder-elimination and hygiene-enhancement programme."

Universal Ultimate Factor: Trial by combat in which the winner takes all except the bare minimum upon which the loser can survive and reproduce.

J Seery

Let the wage of the office cleaner be x and the salary of the top chief executive be y. Multiply the salary of the top chief executive by the wage of the cleaner, making xy. Add the cost of maintaining a house in the suburbs (z^2) and a clothing allowance (xy +100), and multiply the result by the cost of car-parking (c) and add allowance for congestion charging (q):

c x (xy + z^2 + 100)] + q

To determine the wage of the office cleaner, divide this total by the cost of wear and tear to office equipment caused by the use of excessive force (b), where b is greater than z^2, for instance by the forward thrust of a vacuum cleaner:

[c x ((xy + z^2 + 100) / b)] + q]

This will give you the starting point for the necessary calculation. Now take away the top chief executive.

Bill Greenwell

No 3892 Set by Valerie Yule

Famous poets rewrite their famous lines in the light of modern knowledge - Byron, for example, finds man's ruinous control does not stop at the seashore, or Blake's Tyger faces extinction.

To be in by 4 August. E-mail: