by Nick Scullin
Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt has finally returned from his holiday in Australia and is defending his widely-criticised $68,129 pay rise. The 14.4 per cent pay rise will bring his yearly salary to $538,529, up from $470,400. When the pay rise was announced by the city council it prompted a small protest. Many people have written to the Press expressing their outrage at such a large increase at a time when Christchurch people are still hurting from devastating quakes which cost many workers their jobs and/or homes. There have been calls for Marryatt to turn down the pay offer or to donate it to charity, both of which he has refused to do.
The real question should be not is this an inappropriately large pay rise, but why do we have a system that allows one man to be paid such a vast amount of money when the majority of us are getting far less. The answer is that capitalism is a very one-sided system that makes the numerically small capitalist class exceptionally rich at the expense of the rest of us. Under capitalism all value is created by workers at the base level. Workers produce things or services but are paid less than the new value they have created, enabling the bosses to make a profit. Because of this exploitation of workers there are large amounts of money available to pay massive CEO salaries in the private sector. With local government trying to mimic the private sector, their CEOs are also paid obscene amounts of money. But since workers create all the wealth they should also be in control of it and benefit from it. Marryatt and his class are parasites that extract most of the wealth from the rest of us.
Let’s take a minute to dissect some of Marryatt’s arguments for why he deserves his $68,129 pay rise and indeed why he deserves to be paid over half a million dollars a year. First off, he claims his pay is based on the market rate and his performance. As we have already discussed, the market rate only represents that the capitalist class likes to pay its CEOs vast amounts of money which is unjustifiably extracted from workers. Marryatt asserted that he has, “never worked so hard in his life” referring to the Christchurch earthquakes. The same is probably true of many if not most council staff, will they also be getting 14.4 per cent pay rises? Somehow I doubt it. Moreover, many workers, students and small farmers have given vast amounts of time doing hard, dirty physical work, helping clean up the hardest-hit suburbs. Has Marryatt ever rolled up his sleeves and helped in any of this?
Marryatt has been criticised because he did not return from his Gold Coast holiday when the latest big quake hit just before Christmas. He claims he was not needed and that staff had it under control. This is probably quite true, he probably wasn’t needed. But this somewhat contradicts his subsequent argument that he deserves such a big pay rise because his job is so important and difficult. In fact Marryatt is so unimportant that he is not even required when a major quake happens. That is the reality and the same is true of all CEOs and in fact the entire capitalist class. They are not needed and all they do is sponge off the hard work of the rest of us.
Marryatt also complained that he is committed to Christchurch and has been affected by the quakes like everyone else, commenting, “that he owns two properties in Christchurch and both of them are damaged.” Poor Tony, two damaged properties when most of us only have to deal with owning one or no properties, damaged or otherwise, because we simply can’t afford to own our own home. It’s tough being rich, aye.
Marryatt even had the gall to claim that his pay rise was probably not enough, based on the grounds that it reflected what his CEO job entailed pre-earthquakes. Now, he apparently has to work a lot harder and thus probably deserves more. Again, one wonders if he would apply the same logic to the rest of the harder working staff at the Christchurch City Council.
Marryatt argues that he is a “high-performing CEO” and thus he deserves the big bucks. However, the dismal state of affairs in the eastern suburbs of Christchurch rather contradicts his arrogant self-praise. If he is performing so well then why are some eastern suburbs residents still unable to use their toilets from the February and June quakes last year one wonders?
What is the solution? Sack the obnoxious self-aggrandising prick and pay half a dozen workers to do his job. Or, better yet, workers in Christchurch should take things into their own hands. Workers could run things better than his like ever will. We make all the wealth and it’s high time we stop letting the likes of Marryatt take most of it for themselves.
Follow-up article on the protest: https://rdln.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/christchurch-protest-says-dump-marryatt-parker-and-hold-new-elections/
Details of the next protest: