AFP - Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem yesterday called for bonuses for company bosses to be capped at 20 percent of annual pay, saying huge payouts were “out of balance” with other staff.
Writing in the centre-left De Volkskrant daily, Dijsselbloem argued that while the Dutch economy was doing better most people’s purchasing power was still recovering after the economic downturn.
“But the rewards at the top are already way out of the starting blocks,” he wrote.
Under Dutch law enacted in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the top bosses of Dutch state-owned companies cannot receive bonuses higher than a fifth of their annual pay.
But “the executives of companies like Ahold, Heineken and Unilever can earn over a hundred times more than the average worker in their company,” Dijsselbloem complained.
“Relations within companies are put off balance” by this disparity, he warned.
And “in years when everyone’s income is under pressure, such developments at these are not justified.”
The issue of huge golden handshakes and massive payouts for corporate bosses has fuelled anger in many European countries.
And bankers’ bonuses were widely blamed for encouraging the risk-taking culture that ultimately left banks over-stretched and in need of massive government bailouts costing billions.
Dijsselbloem, who is also heads the 19-country eurozone group, said there was “huge dissatisfaction” with “the gap between the ‘elite’ and ordinary citizens”.
Company “directors and auditors need to be aware of the discontent,” he warned and find ways to manage it, including by being transparent about wages.