Volkswagen is lowering its management board’s bonus payments by 30%, chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder reportedly told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

According to Reuters, the paper quoted Pischetsrieder as saying: “If the company is earning less, then the management board must earn less too,” in a preview of an article to be published on Sunday.

Workers’ bonuses or profit sharing for 2003 will also be cut by about 25% to €1,150 ($US1,401) from €1,550 euros, the paper reportedly said.

Reuters noted that, earlier this month, Volkswagen announced plans to slash 5,000 jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive as it warned of a “lousy” first quarter on top of last year’s slump in profits. The company posted a 48% decline in 2003 operating profit to €2.49 billion, despite marginal rises in both car sales and revenues.

According to Reuters, German magazine Der Speigel reported on Saturday that top members of the carmaker’s supervisory board denied speculation that Pischetsrieder would step down and be replaced by Audi head Martin Winterkorn.

The magazine reported that Christian Wulff, the state premier of Lower Saxony, which holds just under 20% of the VW‘s shares, said the German state fully supported Pischetsrieder, Reuters added.

“A lot will change in the VW company – (but) the chief executive is staying,” Spiegel reportedly quoted Wulff as saying.

Reuters added that Ferdinand Piech, Pischetsrieder’s predecessor and currently the head of VW’s supervisory board, was quoted as saying the speculation was “completely unfounded” and that the CEO had his full support.