|Lance Hockridge and John Prescott (right) have been awarded hefty salary increases.
*Image has been digitally altered*
Story and photo courtesy of The Sunday Mail.
Story by David Murray.
WAGE rises that have as much as quadrupled the pay of corporate fatcats and politicians have been condemned as “obscene” as workers struggle to secure modest increases.
Rail company QR National leads the way in hikes after chief executive Lance Hockridge’s salary package skyrocketed from $1.1 million to almost $4.1 million this year.
Federal MPS and top public servants were last week awarded hefty increases, in part because the internet and email made their lives busier, while a range of corporate heavyweights have also been richly rewarded this year.
But few can match the early Christmas present of stockings full of cash and shares to handed to Mr Hockridge and his fellow executives after Queensland Rail’s freight business was privatised.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Owen Doogan said QR National workers who fought to secure a 4 per cent pay rise during the last round of negotiations were furious over corporate greed.
“They feel absolutely amazed that the chief executive should be able to do that when we always have to fight tooth and nail to get increases of between 3 and 5 per cent,” Mr Doogan said.
“I have personally received telephone calls, and my organisers and delegates have told me people are fuming about it. Most don’t know the extent of it and if they did the anger would be even greater.”
After Queensland’s floods cut profits, QR National moved the goalposts so Mr Hockridge would pocket a million-dollar bonus, lowering his performance hurdles in a move some shareholders blasted as cynical. QR National chairman John Prescott’s pay package almost tripled from $135,000 last year to $392,000 this year.
Mr Hockridge was among the biggest cheerleaders for privatisation in the face of a community backlash and fears over job security.
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Peter Simpson said pay rises for corporate heavyweights and politicians came at the same time the Government was calling for restraint.
“It’s obscene. If my guys got three times their pay they would be very happy. Barring Santa dropping down the chimney, I can’t see that happening,” Mr Simpson said.
A QR National spokeswoman said the company had to compete against listed rivals and executive pay “sits in the median of that market”.
“Shareholders expect companies to attract, retain and incentivise, high-performing senior executives,” the spokeswoman said.
Thousands of Energex and Ergon workers have been offered a 3.5 per cent annual pay rise.
But Ergon chief executive Ian McLeod’s salary package jumped 9.2 per cent from $648,000 to $708,000 this year.
An Ergon spokesman said the chief executive received only a 3.5 per cent increase and rest was down to leave accruals.
The independent Remuneration Tribunal last week found Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s salary should rise from $367,000 to $480,000 making her better paid than the US Present or British Prime Minister.