Johannesburg - The apartheid of racial segregation is being replaced by the apartheid of economic segregation, Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.
"We buried apartheid that was based on legalised racial segregation, only to maintain a new kind of apartheid of economic segregation largely still based on racialised exclusion but increasingly based on pure class exclusion," he told delegates at the Xstrata seminar on constructing an ethical society.
The wealth of the elite is at a shocking level, he said.
"South Africa has spawned an uncaring, self-absorbed and indifferent elite whose major sport is an ostentatious display of wealth and power.
"Crass materialism threatens the spirit of selfless service that characterised our democratic movement."
Vavi said the packages given to CEOs in major companies was "way out of kilter" with their productivity.
It was scandalous that in 2008 the top 20 paid directors on JSE-listed companies earned 1 728 times more than the average worker and directors in state-owned enterprises earned 194 times more, he said.
About 71% of black female-headed households earned less that R800 a month and 59% of them had no income.
"When workers demand even as little as a R200 per month increase they are told that they are threatening the stability of the economy," Vavi said.
"This is what makes my stomach turn. For as long we have this situation we are far from achieving the promises of the Constitution for a more equal society.
"It is not workers who undermine this vision but those with power."
The widening inequality in South African society threatened the country's democratic gains, Vavi said.