Unions: Eskom CEO 26,7% salary hike 'disgusting'

Trade unions on Wednesday called Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga’s 26,7% salary increase “disgusting”.

“It’s disgusting that the Eskom board is willing and prepared to award an increment to the tune of R5-million amidst the R9-billion revenue loss suffered by Eskom,” the National Union of Metalworkers said in a statement.

It said Maroga should reject the offer and channel the money to poor consumers.

The electricity utility announced Maroga would be paid close to R5-million a year despite losses and increasing electricity tariffs.

Equally opposed to the 26,7% salary increment were the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa).

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said Eskom’s move was a “slap in the face for electricity consumers” grappling with a 31,3% tariff increase.

“Cosatu is vehemently opposed to the salary of R4,96-million now being paid to Maroga. R5-million is not ‘adequate’, it is exorbitant. How can a public utility which is mandated to provide an efficient and affordable service to the people of South Africa possibly justify paying out such a vast salary to the person in charge?”

The union federation agreed with the Young Communist League’s statement that the utility should direct its effort to making electricity cheaper for the poor and the working class.

Fedusa’s deputy general secretary Gretchen Humphries said Maroga’s salary increase was unjustifiable given the current global economic crisis.

“How can the board offer one man such a high salary increase when Eskom can hardly service the country’s electricity needs?

Instead consumers are expected to pay an extra 40% electricity increase by the end of this year.”

Humphries called on Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan to intervene in the matter for the sake of the poor.

The Freedom Front Plus said Hogan should remove Maroga from his post, as he cost the country R50-billion by failing to respond to the coal stocks crisis on time.

“By doing nothing when he was timeously forewarned about the impending coal crisis, proved that he is not suitable for the position of CEO,” Pieter Groenewald, the party’s spokesperson on public enterprises said.

Justifying Maroga’s salary increase in Parliament on Tuesday, Eskom chairman Bobby Godsell said: “We want the best people in the world to run Eskom and we want them to be adequately rewarded”.

He said the money was not an increase but a “promotional adjustment”.

Groenewald said this was misleading.

“The truth is that Maroga’s salary is now 26,7% more than it was in the previous year.

“The consumer is already being taxed heavily and it is unreasonable to expect consumers to continue to finance incompetence and inefficiency.”—Sapa

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