The trade union Unison has called on Centrica’s shareholders to block its chief executive’s controversial pay rise at next month’s annual general meeting (AGM).

Centrica’s chief executive Iain Conn hit the headlines last week after it was revealed he received a 44 per cent pay rise in 2018, after being awarded two £388,000 bonuses, bringing his total pay packet for the year to £2.4 million.

The news also followed an announcement by Centrica that around 500 jobs in the UK are at risk, with 400 looking likely to go in Scotland due to “growing challenges” including the price cap.

Now Unison has called on Centrica workers, who have stakes in the company though the firm’s share-saving scheme to reject Conn’s remuneration package at next month’s AGM.

In addition, the GMB Union has also warned that ongoing pay negotiations with Centrica will now be “highly charged” following last week’s revelations.

Unison’s national officer for energy, Matt Lay said the pay rise was “obscene” and showed a “total lack of empathy” for the situation many workers find themselves in.

“Staff should make a stand at the forthcoming AGM,” said Lay.

“At a time when the company is struggling financially and staff face an uncertain future, it simply cannot be right that the man at the top is enjoying such a huge pay and bonus extravaganza.

“We ask him to show some leadership by refusing to take this pay rise.”

A spokesman for the GMB Union said a series of pay talks, covering some parts of the business are due to take place this week, while negotiations in other areas have yet to start.

“Pay matters have moved to a totally different dimension following Iain Conn’s 44 per cent pay increase,” said the GMB’s national secretary, Justin Bowden.

“The workforce are angry at Centrica’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’ attitude. Negotiations across all the bargaining groups in Centrica will now be highly charged.”

A spokesman for Centrica said: “The CEO base pay level is benchmarked against the FTSE, and 80 per cent of total compensation is performance related.

“In 2017 the bonus received was zero, whereas in 2018 the company’s total shareholder return was in the top quartile of the FTSE. And Centrica’s performance in 2018 was materially above 2017.”

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