Chief executives in top Irish firms received more than €2.3m last year – Ictu

Unions say average worker would need 230 years to earn total package of CRH boss in 2017

Chief executives at top Irish companies received total remuneration packages of more than €2.3 million on average in 2017, a new report drawn up by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has maintained.

An analysis of 26 companies carried out by Ictu found that on average total remuneration for chief executives was increasing at a rate of 6 per cent per year.

The report indicated that chief executive of building materials group CRH Albert Manifold received €8.659 million in total remuneration in 2017 including basic pay of €1.44 million.

It said the chief executive of Paddy Power received €3.6 million while the CEO of the shipping company ICG received a remuneration of €2.3 million.

Ictu said its analysis showed that executive pay was continuing to climb.

Ictu industrial officer and co-author of the new report Dr Peter Rigney said average earnings for workers in 2017 were €37,646, based on Central Statistics Office figures.

"For the third year in a row, the greatest variance between the average worker's wage and the top chief executive officer's is in CRH. It would take an average worker 230 years to earn what the CEO earned in 2017. This is closely followed by Kerry Group at 214 years and DCC at 141 years. Even at the lowest paid CEO, that of Aminex, it would still take 9 years for the average worker to earn what the CEO earned in 2017", he said.

The Ictu report said in the United States the city council in Portland, Oregon in December 2016 had voted to impose a surtax on companies whose chief executives earned more than 100 times the median pay of their rank-and-file workers.

“The surcharge was collected through the city’s business tax. Companies must pay a 10 percent surcharge if their chief executives receive compensation greater than 100 times the median pay of all their employees. Companies with pay ratios greater than 250 times the median face a 25 percent surcharge.”

The Ictu report also maintained that the average fees paid to directors in the companies which it analysed was €74,490 having grown by 6 per cent from the 2016 figure.

“Median pay decreased in five companies, was unchanged in a further four, and increased in the remaining seventeen companies,” the report stated.

The general secretary of Ictu Patricia King said the upward trajectory of CEO pay was continuing unabated, "notwithstanding growing concern at this phenomenon".

“However, the consensus on high pay is changing. There is a lessening degree of acceptance by shareholders, proxy advisors or by society as a whole that Executive Pay should continue on an unlimited upward trajectory.”

Dr Rigney said the way that companies report on executive pay has become more rigorous, and this trend is set to continue. Firms listed on the Dublin stock exchange are obliged to follow the guidelines of the (British) Financial Reporting Council. New and more rigorous FRC guidelines will become effective in the 2020 season of reports. It remains to be seen whether the effect of these new guidelines is to slow the rate of increase of corporate pay or merely to illustrate an unrelenting upward trend in greater detail.