'Greedy' FTSE directors enjoy 49% pay rise...

The directors of Britain's largest companies were last night dubbed "elite greedy pigs" for pocketing a 49 per cent pay rise in the past year.

Unions exploded with fury on the publication of new figures that showed how much boardroom pay soared in the last financial year, thanks to rising salaries, bonuses and – in particular – the swelling value of directors' long-term share plans.

The statistics, compiled by Incomes Data Services, provide an annual snapshot of executive remuneration, as reported in companies' most recent reports to shareholders, and show that the chief executives of the FTSE 100 largest companies earned an average £3,855,172 last year. That was up 43 per cent; adding in other directors, total earnings rose was 49 per cent.

Steve Tatton, editor of the IDS report, said the large increases represent the rising value of long-term share incentive plans, which are accumulated over time. "Britain's economy may be struggling to return to pre-recession levels of output, but the same cannot be said of FTSE 100 directors' remuneration," he said.

"This is another shining example of how the elite greedy pigs who run our top companies behave," said Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB.

The IDS report is set to reignite calls for the Government to curb executive pay, and the Unite union last night called on company shareholders to be given more power to hold directors accountable.

According to IDS, the FTSE 100 chief executive with the highest earnings last year was Michael Davis of the mining conglomerate Xstrata, who pocketed £18.4m, followed by Bart Becht, of Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Nurofen, Calgon and Durex.

The data in the report is taken from the latest available published annual accounts. IDS defines total earnings as fixed pay, salary and benefits, the value of bonuses earned during the year, both cash and deferred, plus the crystallised money value of any long term incentive awards and the nominal gains made on the exercise of any share options cashed in during the year.