Carlos Tavares, the chairman of PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe's second biggest carmaker, earned 5.24 million euros in 2015, up from 2.75 million in 2014, company documents showed last week
French Finance minister Michel Sapin said the government, which has a 13 per cent stake in the company, asked its representatives to vote against the salary increase.
Sapin told France Inter radio that if the state had a greater share "it would have been blocked." He added that at a time when France's economy is faltering, the increase "is harmful, everyone can see it."
When the salary increase was announced Friday, the CFDT labour union slammed it as a decision which "causes a lot of damage to social cohesion", adding that Peugeot employees had also played a role in turning the company around.
Pierre Gattaz, head of the Medef employers' association, defended the move, saying: "When there is success, it does not shock me that we reward success."
The head of the PSA supervisory board Louis Gallois said the salary increase was "not at all disproportionate".
2,000-euro bonus to employees
Tavares led Peugeot through a restructuring process that moved it back into the black in 2015 with a net profit of 1.2 billion euros.
The company has said it would be paying out an average 2,000-euro bonus to French-based employees as a reward for the strong results.