Buses row bosses sitting on £1m severance pay deal

Ian Craig. Picture: Esme Allen

Ian Craig. Picture: Esme Allen

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THREE top executives at Lothian Buses are on “bomb-proof” contracts which guarantee them a pay-off of twice their annual salary in severance cash if they quit.

The three men – who are all paid more than £200,000 a year in total – have been involved in a high-level dispute with chief executive Ian Craig over his alleged abrasive management style and failure to consult them on key decisions, prompting speculation about their future.

The Evening News revealed last week that the council-owned bus company could face a payout of £500,000 if the men – operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin and finance director Norman Strachan – were to leave, based on a minimum of a year’s salary as severance.

But the new revelation that the three executives all have contracts promising two years’ salary means the bill would be more than £1 million. Ann Henderson, assistant secretary for the Scottish TUC, said that while Lothian Buses bosses enjoyed the prospect of massive pay-offs, many workers were facing wage freezes and cuts in hours.

Even where workers might be entitled to reasonable severance money because of their long service, Ms Henderson said companies were “managing them out the door” with little or no compensation by introducing ever-increasing performance demands and accusing staff of failing to meet them.

She said: “That’s in stark contrast with someone knowing they can leave a publicly-owned company confident in the knowledge they have two years’ salary ahead of them.”

Lothian Buses said Mr Craig was cleared of any wrongdoing after a five-week investigation, but a mediation exercise is still ongoing.

A senior council source told the Evening News it was “inevitable” that one or more of the executives who complained about Mr Craig would depart.

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “The huge sums of money now involved in this dispute mean resolving it should now be a matter of urgency for all involved.

“When public companies put together these packages for staff, I’m concerned that there is not one set of contractual benefits for executives and another for everyone else.

“The priority for this company should be those employees who deal with the public.”