Angry farmers savage Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings' pay cheque

They say the money should have been shared with struggling farmers instead.
They say the money should have been shared with struggling farmers instead. Photo credit: Simon Wong / Newshub

Angry farmers are attacking Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings' $8.31m pay cheque.

During calls to RadioLIVE host Mark Sainsbury on Tuesday, callers savaged his compensation, saying the farmers were the people who needed the money instead.

Mr Spierings' pay included a base salary of $2.463m, benefits of $170,036 and incentives totalling $5.688m, according to the dairy co-operative's annual report, released on Monday.

This was a 78.5 percent jump from his understood annual pay packet of $4.66m in 2016.

Andrea says she is a Fonterra supplier and accuses the co-op of losing the respect of New Zealanders by paying their boss such a large amount.

Mr Spierings' pay equated to $160,000 per week. New Zealand's median weekly salary is $1094 for fulltime workers, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Andrea says her partner and her are on the "bones of their bums" and she is "really, really upset" about the amount given to Mr Spierings.

"My husband and I milk full time. I've had three days off in the past 12 months, and he [her husband] hasn't had anything off in three years," she says.

"We made three years of humungous losses… then he turns around and he gets an $8 million payout."

Fonterra chair John Wilson says Mr Spierings and his executives generated about $2 billion in cash and working capital.

However Andrea says she can't see improvement.

"I can't see that we've got very far," she says. "They're operating it like it's not a co-operative."

Other callers agreed that the payout was excessive, and should have gone to workers. Caller Steve says the bonus should have been shared amongst farmers. 

"The reason these people are making so much money is they're ripping off the people underneath them," he says.

"Why not spread the thing around a bit to people like Andrea who are working for peanuts," caller Ian argued.

Mr Wilson agrees the figure was high, but argued it was fair.

"Clearly these numbers are high from a New Zealand perspective and we absolutely respect and understand that," he said, according to RNZ.

"[But] from an Australasian and a global perspective which is the nature of our business, they're actually well within the bands of what those global executives earn."

Newshub.