The powerful German labor union IG Metall has slammed an 8.5-million-euro ($11.5 million) severance payment awarded to the former co-chief executive of European aerospace giant EADS, Noel Forgeard.
IG Metall has also been at the forefront of protests over job cuts at Airbus
The union called for debate on Forgeard's so-called "golden shake" which has already come under heavy fire in France.
"We are critical of these managers who fail, but who nevertheless receive payments that are provided for in their contracts," a spokesman for IG Metall's north German branch, Daniel Friedrich, told AFP.
"Urgent debate is required on the matter. The payments must be cancelled if the managers fail."
In addition, the general principle of high salaries for executives was "untenable" for the union, Friedrich said.
"Employees don't understand why their wages are continually cut, while managers' pay continuallly rise, ostensibly in the name of remaining competitive at a global level," the spokesman said.
Bumper pay-off for ex-CEO
Forgeard is probably not looking so glum these days
Forgeard, former chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and its plane-making subsidiary, Airbus, was awarded 6.1 million euros ($8.2 million) in pay -- more than two years' salary -- when he left and was also entitled to a non-competition indemnity package payable over two years worth 2.4 million euros more, according to company documents released on Tuesday.
EADS said the payoff was provided for in his contract.
Forgeard stood down last July in the face of troubles at Airbus and controversy over his decision to exercise share options just months before news of the problems was announced.
Airbus has since embarked on a massive restructuring programme that entails the loss of 10,000 jobs in Europe, including 4,300 in France and 3,700 in Germany.
The severance pay packet has sparked fierce protest in France, with presidential election candidates calling it a scandal.
Royal calls for reversal of job cuts plan
Royal is championing the cause of Airbus workers
Socialist contender Segolene Royal called on Airbus to withdraw its proposed 10,000 job cuts across Europe following revelations of the money paid to Forgeard.
Royal called the payments a "scandal" and a "provocation" as Airbus battles with major losses caused by delays to its new A380 super-jumbo jet.
"Taking this information into account, I call on Airbus leaders to withdraw the whole plan so we can start afresh to see which job cuts are justified by the industrial strategy," Royal said in a French television interview.
The Communist Party candidate in the election, Marie-George Buffet, asked: "How can a company give such a bonus to a boss who everyone agrees was a disastrous manager."
The president of the French lower house of parliament Patrick Ollier expressed "indignation" at the payoff.