French President Francois Hollande has taken action against the high salaries of public sector managers. The French government, 15% shareholder of Air France, today refused to vote in favour of a 400,000 euro bonus for the airline's former managing director, Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, who was replaced a few months ago. Most shareholders followed this example, rejecting the payment of this bonus. But in practice, the symbolic gesture will have no impact on the actual payment of the bonus according to experts, since the sum was already paid when Gourgeon left the company in October last year. The French law states in fact that a non-compete agreement must be remunerated. ''Morally he should pay it back,'' French Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici told France Inter, adding that ''the bonus has already been paid out, but clearly that was not the right choice." The current chairman of Air France, Jean-Cyril Spinetta, has pledged that he will not ask for an extraordinary retribution when he leaves. The same story is true for Jean-Paul Herteman, managing director of aeronautics group Safran in which the State has a 30% stake, who saw the bonus he had asked for being turned down.
Around ten days from the parliamentary elections Hollande has made several symbolic moves against the high salaries earned by public sector managers and politicians. The slogan of the new government is ''exemplarity''. On May 17, the French president announced that the salaries of the head of state and the ministers would be cut by 30%. Now it is the turn of managers of state-controlled companies. Moscovici has said that he intends to take all ''necessary measures'' to avoid excesses in state-controlled firms, based on the law that limits salary gaps. ''This way, the government clearly indicates its will to change the question of remunerations,'' added Moscovici, who spoke of a ''moralisation of company managers." ''We will impose our policy in all companies in which the State holds a majority share, limiting the range of salaries. Where we have a minority share we will try to convince the others,'' said Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg. The salary of top managers is not allowed to be more than twenty times higher than the lowest income paid to employees of the same company. According to a recent survey, four out of five people in France are in favour of this rule. ''I believe in the patriotism of managers, I think they understand that the crisis requires the political and economic elite to set an example,'' said Premier Jean-Marc Ayrault. The French State holds shares in several of the main industrial groups in the country, including Areva, Edf (energy), La Poste and Sncf (railways).(ANSAmed).