Royal Mail chief bemoans 'broken' pay-setting for bosses: Pay 'broken' for heads of state-backed firms
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Pay-setting in government-backed companies is "hopelessly broken", according to Royal Mail's pounds 1.5m-a-year chief executive, who in an unguarded email also criticised a "highly politicised" atmosphere surrounding corporate governance.
Moya Greene's candid communication was sent to a member of the public who had voiced concern about her being offered a pounds 250,000 housing allowance, and who shared it with the Guardian.
The postal chief also complained about what she called the aggravating role of the media as she sought to explain why the lucrative perk had been offered to her, and why she had decided to hand it back.
In her email, which Royal Mail confirmed was genuine, Greene, a Canadian, said she was "deeply offended" by the criticism that had come her way over pay and benefits. She added that she was unimpressed with the amount of time it had taken ministers and civil servants to settle her remuneration.
"I took on a company in grave difficulty," she wrote. "I was here for a full 15 months before officials and/or ministers deigned to explain the exact basis upon which I would be paid. I had long resigned my previous position.
"The actual practise [sic] for setting and applying agreed compensation arrangements for [chief executive officers] in commercial companies involving government shareholding is hopelessly broken here," she wrote on 5 August.
Greene, a former civil servant and businesswoman in Canada who took over at Royal Mail in the summer of 2010, has been steering the formerly loss-making 497-year-old service towards an expected privatisation. The Communication Workers Union said in August her pay was "imitating private-sector excess" after a Royal Mail report showed she received a 33% rise last year to bring her pay, including pension contributions, to pounds 1.47m.
The business secretary, Vince Cable, had also expressed his concern about the relocation payment, which Royal Mail's independent remuneration committee of non-executive directors approved. After Cable's comments, Greene offered to hand back the money, which, she wrote, had been offered "in good faith".
In her email, Greene added: "The climate for executives and their abilty [sic] to manage in the UK remains highly politicised, all aggravated by a press corp whose general traits have been well set out by Mr. Justice Levinson [sic]."
But she also robustly defended her track record. With her at the helm, Royal Mail moved from losing money in 2010-11 to generating pounds 334m of cash in 2012-13. She wrote: "In Royal Mail as a commercial company with a public mission we have a long way to go . . . but it is certainly more stable now . . . able to offer thousands of people, 150,000 in fact, good jobs with salaries and benefits far superior to that available elsewhere in our intensely competitive industry."
Royal Mail declined to comment on "individual correspondence" but stressed that there was no breakdown in confidence with the government. It said Royal Mail "has enjoyed tremendous support from government on many issues", and the organisation was "very grateful to ministers and their colleagues for their past support and continued assistance".
Defending the original decision to provide a relocation allowance, Royal Mail said this had been provided in "exceptional circumstances" to take into account the difference in house prices between Britain and Canada. It added: "The chief executive was not involved in the decision and has voluntarily offered to return this assistance. The remuneration committee has accepted this offer."
Royal Mail added that under Greene's leadership, the company had been transformed and that it no longer had the "going-concern" financial issues that were a factor at the time of her appointment.
Greene was critical of ministers and the media for the 'highly politicised' atmosphere around the issue of executive benefits
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(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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