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1991: Anger over chairman's 66% pay rise

The chairman of British Gas has come under fire for accepting a pay rise ten times the rate of inflation.

Robert Evans has been given a 66% increase, taking his salary from 222,000 to 370,000.

The Labour Party condemned the rise as "sheer unbridled greed".

Trade unions for British Gas workers said their members would remember the increase when putting in next year's pay claim.

The company was accused last month of ripping off its customers when it reported a 42% surge in pre-tax profits.

British Gas is a privatised monopoly, and has no competitors.

'Corporate greed'

Labour's energy spokesman, Frank Dobson, said: "It is a symptom of corporate greed.

"They think that now there are no restrictions on them they can do what they like, and in a sense they can".

Defending its decision, British Gas said the chairman's increase was related to the overall performance of the business.

Mr Evans is not the only boss revealed in recent weeks to have been given a huge salary increase.

Prudential's Mick Newmarch enjoyed a 43% boost. Ian Prosser, of Bass, took 45% more, Natwest Bank's Howard MacDonald 60%, and Tesco's Sir Ian McLaurin a massive 330%.

In Context
In June 2002 Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt introduced rules to crack down on "fat cat" pay deals in the private sector.

New regulations aimed at curbing excessive boardroom pay gave shareholders the right to vote annually on the level of directors' salaries, and companies were compelled to publish details of how salaries related to performance.

Several surveys showed that boardroom pay had risen much faster than that of ordinary workers, spurred on by the increasing use of share options.

In July 2002 the TUC opened a campaign against excessive pay packages and argued that employers as well as shareholders should be given a say in determining directors' pay.


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