The chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica pocketed a £2.4 million pay packet last year, despite the firm losing hundreds of thousands of customers as it embarked on a major jobs cull.
Iain Conn saw his total pay rise 44% from £1.68 million in 2017 as he reaped the rewards of an annual bonus, according to the company’s annual report.
It means that the energy boss is paid around 72 times more than the typical Centrica employee, who earns £33,718 on the firm’s lower quartile scale.
The report said : “Iain has shown significant resilience in the face of this challenge and has led the business through the shifting context, keeping the strategic objectives in sight and ensuring that the organisation remains adaptable and innovative.”
But the pay rise comes at a sensitive time for the group.
Centrica announced last year that 4,000 jobs are to be axed under a ramped-up efficiency programme, the majority of which will affect both its UK home and business units over the next three years.
The company’s British workforce had already been slashed by 2,100 on a like-for-like basis in 2017, taking the total number of job cuts to 5,500 since the start of 2016.
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said the pay rise was “unbelievable”.
He said: “The hypocrisy is breathtaking; just days after announcing the intended closure of two sites in Leeds and Glasgow with the loss of hundreds of call centre jobs and while thousands of British Gas staff are in the process of being asked to accept cuts to their retirement pensions. This is some Conn Trick. One rule for the boardroom and another for those who generate the wealth.”
In addition, the company lost 742,000 customers in 2018 as increased competition in the energy sector led to more people switching away to rivals.
To compound matters, in February Centrica warned that profits will be hammered to the tune of £300 million by the energy regulator’s price cap.
Shares slumped on the news and are yet to recover.
Last July, the Government passed a Bill which called on industry regulator Ofgem to impose a cap on all default energy tariffs, including the standard variable tariff, which came into effect at the start of the year.