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ACTU maintains the rage -

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ELEANOR HALL: Australia's chief union organisation has been calling for the Productivity Commission
to send a strong message to corporate Australia that excessive salaries will no longer be
tolerated.

Joining me now with her reaction to today's report is the ACTU president Sharan Burrow.

Sharan Burrow, does this report send the sort of message you've been looking for?

SHARAN BURROW: Well it certainly indicates just how obscene the levels of salary have become -
average of 10 million, 150 times average earnings, I mean, that's an astonishing escalation in
basically what you have to describe as corporate greed.

There's no need for those salaries, this is a self fulfilling marketplace and frankly, we believe
there is talent out there who would work on a far less basis and do a good job.

Having said that, the shareholder power, the increase in shareholder power that the Productivity
Commission recommends, on first glance we would say that's a good thing - transparency,
accountability to your shareholders. People would find it, I hope, very difficult to argue with
that.

We would like to have seen recommendations that go to the heart of the tax base. We do not believe
that over $1 million tax holder money should be involved in any kind of tax deductibility, and
indeed, we do support of course the strengthening and passing of the termination bill that's now in
the Parliament.

Those golden handshakes have to be cut back and particularly when they are in fact to CEOs who have
largely failed in the corporate ambitions of that company.

ELEANOR HALL: Now, you've also been calling for caps on executive salaries and bonuses. The
commission did not recommend this, in fact, specifically didn't. Are you satisfied though that what
it's proposed will have the same effect?

SHARAN BURROW: Look, we are disappointed to see that there's not some indicative cap of a base
salary or a cash salary basis. You know, you've seen since 1990 the growth in salaries of more than
550 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent growth in annum of wages so it really has got out of whack.

We proposed, I suppose what people would call a fairly minimalist approach, but 10 times as a base
salary. We said additional to that shareholders ought to have the power over remuneration. When we
have a look at the actual power of shareholders to reject the remuneration reports, then
potentially that does give them the power that we would seek.

But certainly when we look at discussions that the British Government is having, we saw the
Chancellor of the Exchequer talk about caps in the financial sector just two days ago at the party
conference, we would like to see broader discussion and we're assuming this will go now back to the
Government.

So we'll draw up a second piece of legislation. We hope that will go through appropriate processes
and we'll certainly have our say in that context.

ELEANOR HALL: Sharan Burrow thanks very much for joining us. That's Sharon Burrow, the ACTU
president.