Union slams Aurizon CEO’s pay cheque this year

SOME calculations have revealed "grossly unfair" differences between the pay cheques of Aurizon's head honcho and that of an average-paid employee of the company.

Aurizon CEO Lance Hockridge

Southern media reported that although Aurizon CEO Lance Hockridge's annual salary rose 7% this year, from $5.12 million to $5.48 million, he took home $7 million.

That was mainly due to the vesting of previous long-term incentive awards, which added $4.1 million to a base pay of $1.9 million, plus short-term benefits of $1.2 million.

Central Queensland's Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Craig Allen worked out that Mr Hockridge was earning $2635 an hour.

He further said that Mr Hockridge's "hourly rate" was far beyond the benchmark of what an average-paid employee, who worked a 40-hour week, would take home in a fortnight.

Mr Allen said a lot of Aurizon's profits were the result of the hard work from employees in the lower-tier pay bracket.

"There are workers out there busting off their backsides for this company, and yet they receive a slap in the face," he said.

One former Rockhampton Aurizon worker, who did not want to be named, said he was made redundant in July of this year following restructuring within the company.

Yesterday the employee claimed he was sacked in late June while he was taking care of his wife, who was in hospital.

The employee said he worked in "operations" at the Rockhampton office for more than 30 years.

He said he was informed of the termination of his employment by word of mouth, from a friend.

He claimed he wasn't officially notified of his redundancy until he picked up a letter in the mail, on July 1 of this year, saying his employment had been terminated effective immediately.

The former employee was on a period of carer's leave, in difficult personal circumstances, and found his employment had been terminated from his lease provider.

"No word of warning from Aurizon... nothing," he said.

He has a hearing before Fair Work Australia later this month. In his claim to Fair Work Australia, the former employee will allege that the dismissal in his circumstances was harsh.

Aurizon refused to comment on the matter yesterday, saying its policy was not to discuss issues before authorities.

An Aurizon spokesman yesterday said Mr Hockridge's salary package was included in Aurizon's Remuneration Report. That was subject to shareholder approval each year.

"This share price appreciation is the main reason for the increase in the CEO's take home pay this year, because more than half of the total pay is in shares that were granted by shareholders several years ago," the spokesman said.

"In addition to his salary, he can achieve bonus payments for hitting performance targets."