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Fat Cat Furor

Paul Rainford
5/27/2010

9:25 AM -- With annual revenues declining, and staff discussing strike action, what better time for the CEO of BT to pick up an extra £1.2 million (US$1.7 million)?

The British carrier's annual report showed that Ian Livingston's bonus for the fiscal year ended March 31 took his total pay package to a more than comfortable £2.1 million ($3 million).

The operator returned to profitability during the year, but revenues dipped by 2 percent and 20,000 staff lost their jobs. What's more, revenues are expected to dip again during this financial year, by 4 percent. (See BT Ramps FTTx Plans, Turns a Profit.)

Just imagine what he would have gotten if sales had gone up?

The bonus was justified in the annual report thus: "The demanding conditions set for the 2009/10 annual bonus were largely met. In particular, BT exceeded the targets for free cash flow and earnings per share (EPS). The Chief Executive was therefore awarded a bonus of 142% of target; 71% of his maximum bonus opportunity."

Not surprisingly, the news received a somewhat negative reaction from the Communication Workers Union, with which BT is currently in dispute.

The union notes that its 60,000 members at BT have "voted unanimously to hold a strike ballot as the current standoff over pay continues." It added: "This is about fairness. We don't mind senior executives getting bonuses, but we want all staff to share in the success of the company. Staff have borne the brunt of the cost savings and have delivered the profits but are being treated as a second-thought... BT's attitude to pay is insulting and the staff deserve more."

BT has offered CWU's members a 2 percent pay raise. Light Reading's office calculator suggests that Livingston's annual pay raise was in the region of 79.3 percent.

Expect a strike.

— Paul Rainford, freelance editor, special to Light Reading

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