BOSSES at a publically-owned Scottish bus firm paid themselves a whopping £175,000 in bonuses last year, it has emerged.
Four directors at Lothian Buses each received bonuses of up to £47,000.
The payments meant that, combined with their salaries of up to £160,000, the bosses were paid more than the Prime Minister and High Court judges.
The payments, which follow a 10p fare hike on journeys in the Edinburgh area, were last condemned by union officials and politicians.
The bus company is 91% owned by Edinburgh Council, which was this week revealed to have lavished up to £800,000 on payments to former directors of axed tram project firm TIE.
Lothian Buses managing director, Ian Craig, received a ‘performance-based’ bonus of £47,200 – almost a third of his annual £160,000 salary.
Bill Campbell, operations director, Bill Devlin, engineering director and finance director Norman Strachan all received plum bonuses of £47,000 last year on top of their £145,000 salaries.
Lothian Buses today defended its decision, saying the bonuses were due to good performance by the directors. The firm made a profit of £13m from operations in 2010.
The payments emerged after Edinburgh Council published the figures for the first time in its unaudited accounts.
City transport leader Lesley Hinds said the council was unaware of the bus company’s decision to hand out the payments.
She said: “The decision was made without input from the council and I’m sure the public will be questioning the level of these bonuses in the current economic climate.
“I’m determined to ensure more public scrutiny of these decisions in future.”
Earlier this week it emerged former directors of the axed tram project firm TIE were handed £406,000 in compensation payments.
It was claimed they had received up to £400,000 more in notice payments.
On a salary of just under £160,000, Mr Craig already earns more than David Cameron who is on £142,500 and Alex Salmond who is on £135,000.
With his £47,200 bonus, his salary of over £208,000 overtakes that of High Court Judges top police chief constables and head of judiciary, Lord Gill.
Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of the Unite union, which represents bus drivers, said directors are all ready paid more enough.
He said: “These directors are already remunerated handsomely and there should be no place for an executive bonus culture in public services. The size of these bonuses are neither right nor fair.
“Lothian Buses turns over a decent profit for a publically-owned bus company and we want to see it put back into services, back into terms and conditions for out workers, into modernising the fleet that are going to benefit the passengers, the public and the workers.
“The success of Lothian Buses is down to its publically-owned status, to the workforce and the loyalty of the travelling public that means the company can see the kind of ticket sales it does.”
Sarah Boyak, the Labour government spokeswoman and Lothians MSP said it is front-line staff that play a major role in making the firm a success.
She said: “When only those at the top get financial bonuses, people are bound to ask about fairness for the rest of the employees who have been working hard to make the company a success.
“I can’t imagine bus users who have had to pay extra in fares will be particularly happy either.”
But Neil Renilson, former chief executive of Lothian Buses, said it was right that the senior executives at the bus firm were rewarded for turning losses in 2008, to significant profits since 2009 and also for ensuring buses run on time.
He said: “Lothian Buses is a successful company providing a high-quality service to the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians – a rather different business to TIE.
“Payments made to the staff of Lothian Buses are payments for success, unlike the payments to staff at TIE, which were for failure.”
Mr Craig said: “Lothian Buses is a commercial business, Edinburgh City Council being the majority shareholder. Directors are remunerated fairly and in line with their roles and responsibilities. The board independently sets directors salaries and any bonuses paid are performance related.
The same accounts also reveal that bosses at two of the council’s subsidiary companies – EDI Group and Edinburgh International Conference Centre made six-figure sums in 2011-12.
EDI Groups operations and finance director, Eric Adair, made £102,901, while EICC chief exec made £148,234, including a bonus of £18,373.