BHP defends CEO salary

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers did not receive a major pay rise in 2009, a BHP spokesperson has told MINING DAILY, after a very public backlash from BHP union members against his US$10.39 million earnings.

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers did not receive a major pay rise in 2009, a BHP spokesperson has told MINING DAILY after a very public backlash from BHP union members against the size of his earnings.

This week’s release of BHP’s 2009 US Annual Report revealed that Klopper’s annual salary had increased to US$10.39 million, up from US$6.87 million in 2008.

The apparent pay rise has been attacked by workers unions, who point the loss of thousands of BHP jobs over the past 12 months as a reason to keep executive salaries lower.

But according to the BHP spokesperson, Klopper’s 2009 salary did not constitute a pay rise.

“It is wrong to say that Marius was awarded a 51% increase,” he said.

“There has been no increase in the CEO’s base salary for the current financial year.”

There were various reasons for the improved salary, including standard company increases and the maturation of long term investments and incentive plans, the spokesperson said.

“For this year’s Annual Report, there was an increase awarded in mid-2008 and also on 1 October 2008,” he said.

“The increase awarded in mid-2008 reflected market conditions at that time, and at 7% was a similar percentage increase to the wage increases among our Australian employees at that time.

“BHP Billiton’s approach is to adjust senior executives’ salaries broadly in line with the salary reviews for the employees in the jurisdiction where they are based, which is Australia in Marius’ case.”

Regardless of the reasons behind the increased salary, it will be a major topic of discussion at a meeting of BHP union delegates today in Cessnock.

Construction Forestry Mining Energy union (CFMEU) national president Tony Maher told MINING DAILY union delegates will advise BHP workers to push for the largest pay increase they can.

“The (BHP) workers do not need to listen to any calls for restraint because there has not been any shown at the top,” he said.

Maher said the CFMEU believes that Kloppers earning such a huge salary after significant company setbacks such as the Ravensthorpe mine closure and the collapsed Rio Tinto takeover bid is unacceptable.

“It is not that long ago that the company sacked nearly 4000 people,” he said.

“It is just a perverse system.”

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