Commuters greeted the news that a street and traffic light engineer for Birmingham City Council was paid #91,000 while at home on extended sick leave with shock and derision last night.
A union official for Amicus, Ian Smith received his basic #71,000 salary plus bonuses and overtime of #20,000 while he has been off work sick for the past year.
Workers forced to take extended leave for personal or health reasons often find their pay is slashed, or in some circumstances suspended, the longer they are absent from their job. Robert Blyth, chief executive of Birmingham-based Hortons Estates, said: "I am very surprised by the salary levels involved here.
"My employees don't get paid anything like #91,000 and they're expected to attend call-outs and earn any bonuses. There are certain expectations that go with a salary like that.
"When Mike Whitby took office as leader of Birmingham City Council it was his intention to sort out some malpractices in the council but my feeling is that there are some very entrenched practices there that are very difficult to overcome."
Kevin Byrom who works for a Birmingham finance firm, added: "Compared to what my organisation would do in similar circumstances if an employee was off sick long term, that's excessive.
"Compared to the bonuses paid to City workers it does not seem too bad, but to the average person in Birmingham seeing their rates being used in this way does strike you as being absurd.
"I've had people off on extended leave and they often go down to half pay after a certain period, so I don't see why this chap should be the exception to the rule."
Solicitor Steve Hopkins works for city law firm Carvers, which is representing 60 women involved in a pay dispute with the council agreed the situation was "preposterous".
He said: "Of course it's absurd. This is rooted in sexism because Mr Smith does a male-dominated job.
"He's overpaid because he's lucky to be in a male-dominated role which has historically been protected by the employer and trade unions at the expense of women's jobs, that's why thousands of women are bringing sex discrimination cases now."
Kay Munro, a business manager for Lloyds TSB in Colmore Row, Birmingham, also agreed Mr Smith's pay was "excessive". She said: "I think this guy's pay is excessive for what he does, shouldn't it be nearer #30,000 for a role like that?
"The fact he's getting full salary and bonuses while off long term sick seems over the top. That said, I'd love a contract like that."
Angel Garner, an administrator at Lloyds TSB, added: "Something needs to be changed within the council if this is the kind of money people who change lightbulbs are commanding now. It does seem like an awful waste of money.
"Lloyds TSB don't let us take the mickey when it comes to situations like this, which is what it seems like this guy is doing."