The chief executive of one of South Africa's biggest platinum miners apologised Saturday after his "inappropriate" comments about executive pay packages and the salaries of striking miners caused outrage.
Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffith said earlier this week that comparisons should not be made between the salaries of educated, skilled executives and workers with few or no skills and limited education.
"Am I getting paid on a fair basis for what I’m having to deal with in this company?" Griffith was quoted as saying in the Business Day newspaper.
"Must I run this company and deal with all this nonsense for nothing? I’m at work. I’m not on strike. I’m not demanding to be paid what I’m not worth."
According to the 2013 Amplats annual report, Griffith was paid a total 17.6 million rand (about $1.7 million).
Griffith, his 11 executives and top management have also been awarded a potential 76 million rand in "skills retention" and performance bonuses over the next three yeas.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), on a prolonged wage strike at Amplats, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, has said the top management of those companies earn 209 times what the lowest-paid workers are paid.
"Over and above their unusually obscene salaries, top management get paid out in share options and share dividends that come to millions of rands," it said.
In a letter to Business Day, which was also issued as a statement by the company, Griffith said: "I wish to apologise to the employees of Anglo American Platinum and the readership for comments I made in a Business Day article on Wednesday.
"My choice of words was inappropriate and a poor way to describe the extremely challenging situation we find ourselves in.
"Further, the seemingly insensitive timing of bonus scheme announcements has been determined by (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) reporting regulations coinciding with the prolonged strike.
"I want to reassure your readership that I care deeply about the impact of this strike on the lives of our employees, their families and communities.
"The situation is dire. However AMCU’s demand for a minimum basic wage of 12,500 rand (about $1,250 per month) remains unaffordable."
South Africa accounts for 80 percent of the world's platinum supply.