At Volkswagen, Labor Knives Come Out for Herbert Diess

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
at volkswagen labor knives come out for herbert diess

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess has a target on his back, now that the union representing the automaker’s workers has made its distrust of the company public.

Labor union IG Metall slammed the company’s management in a letter published on its website, stating the company was using the diesel emissions scandal as a way of cutting staff, according to Bloomberg.

The union said it wants assurances from Volkswagen brass that layoffs aren’t coming down the pipe, and implied that Diess’ job is in danger if he doesn’t agree to protect employee positions.

“We have the impression that the diesel scandal is being used as a back door to undertake personnel cuts that wouldn’t have been on the agenda a few months ago,” works council boss Bernd Osterloh said in the letter, adding that the company’s management “lacks reliability.”

Other top union officials expressed their lack of trust in company management.

Diess has more reason to sweat than executives at other automakers. Volkswagen workers make up half of the company’s supervisory board, and Osterloh sits on the board as well.

A decade ago, brand chief Wolfgang Bernhard was muscled out of his position after proposing cost-cutting measures, and the same fate could await Diess.

Volkswagen personnel chief Karlheinz Blessing responded quickly to the union’s letter, claiming that negotiations would begin soon to hammer out an agreement on the long-term future of staff and facilities.

A report emerged last month that suggested Volkswagen was planning to cut some of its 40,000-strong office staff in Germany to free up money needed to settle lawsuits, fines and other costs arising from the scandal.

Other company-wide efficiencies were labelled “unrealistic” by Osterloh, who refused to back any cost-cutting plan that involved staffing cuts.

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  • PeugeotHound PeugeotHound on Apr 07, 2016

    VW leadership would be in a stronger position to seek cost savings and workforce reductions if they chose to forgo their bonuses; but they're not.

    • Raph Raph on Apr 11, 2016

      How many business leaders have that kind of integrity? Few I'll wager.

  • FreedMike FreedMike on Apr 08, 2016

    Well, in theory, the union has a point. The guys who screw the cars together weren't the ones who decided to defraud their customers, and governments worldwide, with the cheating diesels. But they'll be the ones who pay the price, that's for sure. If I were working at the VW plant in Chattanooga, I'd shine up my resume.

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"