Status: 04/11/2021 5:00 p.m.
More conciliatory tones, but also harsh criticism: Works council boss Cavallo has accused CEO Diess in front of employees in Wolfsburg of unsettling the workforce. The top manager continues to push for more productivity.
The dispute between CEO Herbert Diess and representatives of the workforce over the future of the Volkswagen Group came to light again at a meeting in Wolfsburg. “There is not one too many people on board here,” said works council chief Daniela Cavallo, according to a spokesman in front of the employees. Diess should end his speculations about job cuts, these were “nonsense in terms of content” and unsettled the workforce. “The only change is with VW culture,” said Cavallo.
In a supervisory board meeting in September, the CEO caused an uproar with statements about the possible reduction of up to 30,000 jobs in Germany. “With the stroke of a pen, as if it were nothing, you just put a number of 30,000 in the room. And it takes almost 48 hours to finally comment on it – and then to say: Oh, everything wasn’t meant that way,” said Works council boss Cavallo. This is apparently not clear that he has triggered fear among employees. Cavallo also criticized that VW did not have a concept for combating the chip crisis. However, the works council is not about people. “The only thing that interests us are solutions to the challenges ahead.” It had previously become known that the employee representatives on the supervisory board had filed a motion of no confidence in Diess.
No guarantee for further electric models
VW boss Diess tried to limit the damage, but at the same time swore the employees to tough competition in the auto industry. The US manufacturer Tesla needs ten working hours to produce an electric car, while Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant takes over 30 hours. The 63-year-old appealed to the workforce to pull together with management if changes were to be made in the group. “Only together can we make Volkswagen future-proof,” said Diess.
Diess did not give the assurance required by the works council to build another electric car at the main plant in Wolfsburg. The models with combustion engines produced there do not permanently use the site to full capacity. The CEO announced that the plant would be “again the flagship for car production” without giving details. The group must increase its productivity and accelerate the restructuring. Diess reiterated his forecast that the number of jobs will fall within the next ten to 15 years.
“And the parts are simply missing”
The negotiations at VW about a plan for the future of the Wolfsburg plant up to the end of the decade (“Vision 2030”) are considered to be an important setting of the course. The investment planning for the next five years, which was scheduled for mid-November, had previously been postponed to December 9th.
Works council chief Cavallo disagreed with Diess’ presentation that VW would be less productive compared to Tesla. Per capita, “a lot more vehicles” would be built in the main plant. “The truth is: it is not the factory or the employees that are inefficient,” said Cavallo. “We simply lack the parts with which we can build our cars.” The works council and workforce also wanted the change.
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil also demanded that management should not stir up worries. “The task of the company in these times is to provide prospects,” said the SPD politician. Lower Saxony is the second largest VW owner after the family holding Porsche SE. At the event, IG Metall boss Jörg Hoffmann emphasized that Volkswagen needed a motivated workforce to switch to electromobility: “A trainer who has no access to the team loses the game on the pitch.”