Johannesburg - South African workers will be even more determined to fight for a living wage after the publication of the rich list by the Sunday Times showed an increase in assets among the country's wealthiest, said trade union federation Cosatu on Monday.
The list showed that SA's 20 wealthiest people, who were collectively worth R112.2bn, had seen their wealth jump 58.96% over the past two years, while the wealthiest 100 people had seen their wealth shoot up 62.19%.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the list confirmed that the world's most unequal society is growing more unequal by the day.
Top earners in 2010 included Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson
, who took home R627.53m in salary, perks and share options, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers
, who received a total of R77.53m, and Bernard Kantor
, Investec's MD, with R56.69m.
"These figures make nonsense of the argument that companies need to pay such vast amounts in order to retain top skills, because more than 20 of the top 100 highest-paid executives in 2010 are no longer in their positions today," said Craven.
Craven said that Cosatu was forging ahead with its living wage campaign, which aimsd to raise "the pathetic levels" of workers' wages and start to narrow the huge gap between rich and poor.
The latest figures for the rich, Craven added, proved that SA was a rich country, but that the distribution of the wealth left just 20 people owning R112.2bn, while 48% of South Africans, about 24 million people, were living on below the poverty level of R322 a month.
"16% of employed workers earn less than R500; 33.4% earn less than R1 000, and 60% earned less than R2 500. Yet employers want more 'flexible' labour laws so that they can find ways to pay even less, as many are already doing by using labour brokers or employing workers on a casual basis," Craven said.
"Workers will certainly not stop fighting for real increases in their living standards while such grotesque levels of inequality remain," Craven said.