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Illawarra Mercury

Prescott's $11mil payout `excessive, unwarranted'

Date: 24/08/1998
Words: 268
          Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: News
Page: 8
A multi-million dollar golden handshake to outgoing BHP boss John Prescott has been labelled ``excessive and unwarranted".

Australian Workers Union spokesman Andrew Whiley said the $11.1million redundancy payment to Mr Prescott was made despite BHP's poor performance and $1.47billion operating loss for the 1997-98 year.

Mr Whiley said the former chief executive's package included an estimated $8million severance pay as well as other salary and superannuation components. The company's annual report released on Friday indicated that BHP senior executives had received incentive payments of 11 per cent in the year to May 31, 1998 on top of their existing salary and benefits, Mr Whiley said.

``Big business executives are always defending their huge salary packages on the basis of their performance and decision-making," Mr Whiley said. ``Under this criteria, Mr Prescott and the other outgoing directors should be giving most of the money back."

Mr Whiley said the huge payout had come at the expense of hundreds of BHP steelworkers who were bearing the brunt of a string of bad management decisions which had cost the company billions.

``Cost cutting and redundancies are rife throughout the various divisions," he said. ``Yet here we have the directors still managing to find the money to award themselves large increases and to reward their mates with multi-million dollar payouts when they are forced to leave the company.

``BHP and other large companies have all supported deregulation of the labour market and believe that workers' wages and conditions should be more `flexible'. This philosophy obviously doesn't apply to their own pay packets."

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