Industry bosses received an average pay rise of 15.7%, according to Building’s top 100 contractors and housebuilders tables published this week. Employees did less well, with an average rise of just 6.2%.

The highest-paid boss was John Kirkland, chairman and managing director of Bowmer & Kirkland. His salary in the year to 31 August 1999 was £1.6m, almost twice as much as his nearest rival, a McNicholas Construction director who earned £969 000.

Kirkland, 62, who runs the £282m-turnover contractor, said he gets no pay under his terms of employment unless his company is in profit.

He improved his pay package last year by 27%. The Derby-based company, established in 1923, lifted pre-tax profit from £9.2m to £12.1m over the same period. The employees received an average pay increase of 1.3%, taking their average pay to £24 100. The figures for bosses’ pay do not include dividends on shares owned.

Across the 100 firms, employees’ average pay was £22 200, compared with £20 900 the year before. Facilities management group Mitie paid by far the least. Its staff got £5300 on average, an 11.7% rise on the previous year.