Johannesburg - Inequality in South Africa is even worse than previously thought, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Monday.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven was responding to a Sunday Times article that reported on a survey "Who Owns Who" on the super-wealthy in South Africa.
"(Cosatu) has for many years been highlighting the gross levels of inequality in South Africa;...if (the Sunday Times) report is true, Cosatu, far from exaggerating the gulf between rich and poor, has been seriously under-estimating it!," said Craven.
The survey revealed that the number of super-wealthy South Africans had doubled in a year.
"This has happened while we have been recovering from a recession in which over a million workers lost their jobs and as a result over five million people were plunged into dire poverty."
The report stated that the number of billionaires nearly doubled from 16 in 2009 to 31 this year.
Craven said the statistics made workers "more determined than ever" to push for above-inflation wage increases.
"The wealth that these people own and receive is created by the workers’ labour in the mines and factories, on the farms and in the shops.
"Their bosses' salaries and perks are now higher than those in developed countries, while workers' wages are nowhere remotely near those of their American or European counterparts."
The top earner in the survey was reported as Pine Pienaar
, CEO of Mvelaphanda Resources [JSE:MVL]
, who earned R63m in 2009. He was followed by Norbert Platt, CEO of Richemont [JSE:CFR]
, who got R58m and then Marius Kloppers
, CEO of BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL]
who took home R54m.
"Only eight of the 150 top-paid executives come from the public sector, but what is remarkable is the number who have either left or are leaving, many of them heading companies plagued with failures, controversy and financial bail-outs," said Craven.
The highest paid state-owned enterprise executive was Khaya Ngqula
, former head of SAA.
"He still ‘earned’ R13.7m in 2009, including his controversial R9.35m "termination benefit".Jacob Maroga
, who was fired from Eskom in 2009, earned a salary of more than R5m in the same year.
"If he wins his legal claim for a payout for unlawful dismissal and for benefits he would have accrued into 2011, he will get a total of R85m," Craven said.