The huge pay hikes of top executives is unacceptable while workers fight for “reasonable” wages, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Monday.
“Cosatu is outraged that at a time when workers are struggling for modest improvements in their low wages, that chief executives are taking home increases a good 10% higher than what the workers are demanding,” said spokesperson Patrick Craven.
Craven noted with anger a report indicating that the average pay of executive directors of the top 40 Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed companies increased last year by 23.3% to R4.8-million.
He said South Africa had already been rated the most unequal society in the world.
“These latest increases at the highest levels have widened the gap still further. They make the unions’ demands seem even more modest and reasonable.
“This report … illustrates why Cosatu has relaunched its living wage campaign, and why we are fully behind the workers currently on strike.”
About 70 000 fuel workers from the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood, and Allied Workers Union (Ceppwawu) and the General Industries Workers Union of SA (Giwusa) downed tools on Monday.
Around 170 000 engineering and metal workers were also on strike from Monday last week.
Giwusa had members in the pharmaceutical, glass, chemical and fast-moving consumer goods, fibre and particle board industries.
They were planning to march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Their demands included a minimum salary of R6 000 per month and a 40-hour work week.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the Metal and Electrical Workers Union (Mewusa), and the SA Equity Workers Association (Saewa) were demanding wage increases ranging from 10% to 13%, and a ban on labour brokers.
Last week, violence during the strike resulted in one death and six injuries. — Sapa