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5% pay rise for Centrica chiefs

Top bosses at British Gas parent Centrica will get an average 5% pay rise this year, it was revealed today.

The firm's annual report said the award followed a year of "significant delivery" for the business and bigger roles for two of its five executive directors.

The revelation comes in a week which has seen thousands of British Gas workers vote for strike action amid criticisms of "macho management" at the business, although the company has hit back at the GMB union for "false accusations and reckless scaremongering".

A company spokesman said top directors took a pay freeze in 2009 while average salaries rose 4% among the group's customer-facing staff.

British Gas - the UK's biggest energy supplier delivered a record £595 million in operating profits last year, up from £376 million in 2008.

The residential business reaped the benefit of previous price hikes, although the firm led the way recently with a 7% reduction in gas bills during February.

The annual report showed chief executive Sam Laidlaw's package rising from £1.73 million to £2 million last year, including a £915,000 basic salary and £908,000 bonus.

Mr Laidlaw held 1.2 million shares with a market value of £3.5 million at the end of last year, as well as interests in a further 3.5 million shares through Centrica's share matching and long-term incentive schemes, the report showed.