Lothian Buses chief 'astronomical' £33,000 pay rise plus bonus fuels anger over pay deals

The boss of Lothian Buses has received an ‘astronomical’ £33,000 pay rise plus a £26,000 bonus, it has emerged, as controversy deepens over Edinburgh public transport pay deals.

By Jolene Campbell
Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:55 am

Nigel Serafini saw his salary rise from £125,000 to £158,000 with a £26,000 bonus on top plus £2,300 in ‘other benefits’ in the year ending April 2022.

Latest figures from the city council’s unaudited accounts show the interim managing director of the arms-length company was paid £59,000 more in total than in the previous financial year.

The revelations have sparked fresh fury and demands for answers over pay deals and bonus structure for transport bosses, after the Evening News revealed that Managing Director of Edinburgh trams Lea Harrison received a 16 per cent increase with a bonus of £16,000.

Nigel Serafini saw his salary rise from £125,000 to £158,000 with a £26,000 bonus on top plus £2,300 in ‘other benefits’ in the year ending April 2022.

Labour MP Ian Murray has blasted the ‘astronomical’ pay rises as unjustified.

Union bosses said staff feel let down by what they described as ‘cosy pay deals made behind closed doors’ at a time when many are struggling due to the cost of living crisis.

Council leader Cammy Day said bonuses should not be paid to senior executives ‘under any circumstances’ at an emergency meeting he called with the Board of Edinburgh Trams on Wednesday.

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Lothian bus drivers accepted an offer of 8 per cent pay rise last week but tram workers are still embroiled in a dispute and have voted down two offers so far, including one at just four per cent.

Unite says some tram workers rely on food banks and have blasted significant pay deals for bosses as ‘immoral’.

Now the Union is demanding that bonuses are explained to workers as they enter last-ditch talks with the threat of strike action by tram workers on the table.

Lyn Turner, Regional Officer for Unite said: “There’s clearly no accountability. That’s the wider issue. We deserve to know the criteria for year-on-year bonuses and ‘other benefits’. It’s on them to be transparent about these payments.

“Cosy pay deals made behind closed doors are unacceptable and need to be stopped.

“Unless directors are totally detached from reality they must understand the consequences for staff of these deals. They see significant pay rises and bonuses at the top and they feel frustrated and let down.

“Bosses have created a rod for their own backs here. Directors should be setting an example and trying to resolve the issue over pay.”

Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said: “During a cost-of-living crisis, there is no justification at all for such an astronomical pay rise and bonus.

Passengers, drivers and other staff will rightly have questions they want answered.

“We are proud of our bus service in Edinburgh, but at this difficult time for so many, any extra resources should go to those on the lowest pay, not those at the top.

A spokesperson for Lothian Buses said: “The Lothian Buses Board are well aware of concerns about excess company remuneration and for that reason the Board's Remuneration Committee regularly commission an independent benchmarking exercise to scrutinise the pay of senior colleagues to ensure that they are comparable with similar roles in the industry."