Centrica’s pay deals get the nod despite severe protests

Energy giant's Centrica's controversially high pay packages for executives got approval from its board, despite outcry and severe criticism by twenty protest groups.

Elaine Lebeth, chairperson of the Lambeth Pensioners Action Group, accused Centrica and the other energy firms of pocketing big profits while failing to slash rates even amid declining wholesale gas and power prices. The Lambeth Pensioners Action Group is one of the 20 groups that laid siege to Centrica's annual meeting at the London-based Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre yesterday.

Criticizing the company over its huge pay packages for executives, Lebethe said, "Centrica are the fattest of the fat cats. They are about profit not people." Clare Welton of Fuel Poverty Action condemned the company for installing pre-payment meters in the homes of customers who failed to pay their bills, and urged the board to wake up.

Director Chris Weston's £401,000 cash bonus was one of the packages that protestors condemned severely. Protest groups also dragged Centrica's profits warnings, poor customer service standards and feeble dividends under fire.

However, total pay to the Centrica's board slipped drastically from £19.5 million in 2012 to £7.7 million in 2013.

Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite said they understood calls for cheaper electricity and gas prices. But, he argued that wholesale energy prices, transport charges and environmental & social costs were outside the company's control.

Stock in Centrica shed ½p to 318p per share in the after-hours trading on Monday.