Anger at Shell 'fat cats' cash boost

ANGER erupted last night after it emerged "fat cat" senior executives in oil giant Shell are set to receive a bumper cash boost – just weeks after the company axed more than 200 jobs in Suffolk.

By David Lennard

ANGER erupted last night after it emerged "fat cat" senior executives in oil giant Shell are set to receive a bumper cash boost – just weeks after the company axed more than 200 jobs in Suffolk.

Shell shareholders yesterday backed a package of rewards under a "long term incentive plan" which offers senior executives shares worth up to twice their salary.

But the decision, made at the firm's annual general meeting in London, sparked immediate anger in north Suffolk – still reeling from the jobs bombshell dropped earlier this month.


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Shell announced 650 redundancies across the country including more than 200 at its plant at Lowestoft.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said last night: "Constituents of mine who have just been told they will be made redundant by Shell will probably be flabbergasted that two weeks later the company's top executives are to be rewarded with more bonuses on top of their existing huge salaries."

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The new plan comes on top of existing remuneration arrangements which saw chairman Sir Philip Watts earn £1.8 million last year.

Shell workers and offshore contractor staff had appealed to shareholders to reject the incentives package at the company's annual general meeting.

The AMICUS union, which represents many Shell workers, also campaigned strongly for the package to be abandoned.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of AMICUS, said: "The timing of this announcement is astonishing and in total disregard to the hundreds of workers devastated to be losing their jobs in recent weeks and the thousands more who fear they are next to go."

Mr Simpson said that as far as his members were concerned Shell executives were already well rewarded and it was hard to justify further pay increases following the round of redundancies and the falling share price.

AMICUS members lobbied Shell shareholders outside the annual meeting that took place in the QEII Centre in Westminster.

The union protestors wore hard hats and t-shirts with slogans such as "Don't Shell out to fat cat bosses" and "Don't give into their Shell-fish demands".

Sir Peter Job, representing Shell's remuneration committee, said executive pay needed to keep pace with other major oil companies in order to attract the best talent.

He said: "We feel that Shell is conservative in its approach to remuneration."

However, at the same meeting there was also a shareholder rebellion over executive pay.

A call from the National Association of Pension Funds to reject Shell's remuneration report attracted almost a quarter of the vote at the group's annual meeting.

A spokesman for the NAPF said: "I think that's a shot across the bows as far as shareholders are concerned."

Graham Tran, Aberdeen-based regional officer for AMICUS, said he was disappointed with the vote on the new incentive plan but welcomed the rebellion on the remuneration package.

Yesterday's vote on the new incentive plan gives the backing of shareholders in Shell's UK-listed arm Shell Transport and Trading - a separate vote at its Dutch arm is also taking place.

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