Wellington, Oct 28 NZPA - A decade on from the nation's dairy farmers being promised the Fonterra mega-merger would deliver big boosts in payouts, the cooperative's New Zealand executives appear to have done better out of the deal than the cockies.
In 2001, farmers questioned annual salary payments of over $1 million each to nine staff -- including more than $2m to then chief executive Craig Norgate -- as Fonterra paid 974 of its staff more than $100,000 each in its first year in business.
The high-paid workers included 716 working outside New Zealand, and 46 employees received more than $500,000 each.
For their money, farmers got a record milk payout of $5.33/kg milksolids, and revenue of $13.9 billlion.
In 2009, with revenue up $2b at just over $16b, but the payout still at $5.20/kg (in today's dollars), the farmers have just seen their directors pay 2547 executives more than $100,000 each -- including 103 who were dumped or quit during the past year -- with 1207 of them in New Zealand and 1237 overseas.
That's a 14 percent increase in revenue, and a drop in milk payout for farmers over the same period that the number of their workers at the cooperative earning more than $100,000 jumped roughly 46 percent.
The number of staff joining the $100,000-plus club rose by 825 over the past year, up from 1772 in 2008 (783 in NZ and 816 overseas, with 173 departing the business).
They included six in New Zealand paid over $1m, and nine offshore.
Six other departing staff took payouts over $1m, and one of them pocketed around $3.72m -- more than the pay package of between $3.62m and $3.63 for chief executive Andrew Ferrier, or about $70,000 a week including performance payments.
Fonterra's human resources group director Jennifer Kerr told NBR part of the past year's lift in numbers was because the offshore employees earning more than $100,000 actually continued receiving about the same in local currency, but drop in the NZ dollar exchange rate meant their pay cost more in NZ dollar terms. On the plus side for farmers, Fonterra has carved back its total number of workers from 20,000 when it was formed in 2001 to 15,600 fulltime job equivalents this year, 9500 in New Zealand and 6100 overseas.
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