Vortex around VW headquarters – major job cuts «not an issue»

Wolfsburg (dpa) – At Volkswagen, despite the increasing competitive pressure from Tesla, there are no plans to allegedly cut tens of thousands of jobs. The top of the group opposed speculation on Wednesday.

“A reduction of 30 000 jobs is not an issue” , it was said from the environment of CEO Herbert Diess. Previously, reports had circulated that substantial cuts could be imminent, for example at the Wolfsburg headquarters. There could be no question of that, it was now said. 000 have spoken. VW emphasized that it was not about a possible, immediate scenario of impending job losses. In a few weeks, specific decisions on investments for the coming years will be pending. The “planning round”, which traditionally ended in mid-November, should again be dominated by the restructuring in the direction of e-mobility and networking – with the associated conflicts and conflicting interests between a number of locations.

“The debate has now started, and there are already a lot of good ideas, ”Diess had explained, for example, on the“ Trinity ”e-project in Wolfsburg from 2025 / 2026. However, it is necessary to discuss the cost situation and capacity utilization intensively: “There is no question that we have to deal with the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of the new market participants.” It is mainly about the US rival Tesla and its new German factory near Berlin.

Elon Musk’s company in Grünheide will “set new standards in productivity”. For example, Tesla produces with comparatively few battery variants and a special technology in body construction, which makes the production of large quantities more profitable. Regardless of this, Volkswagen has the chance to “revolutionize the Wolfsburg location and secure jobs in the long term with concepts such as“ Trinity ”itself.

VW works council chief Daniela Cavallo turned to the workforce on the intranet:“ This morning’s headlines rightly raised questions and, unfortunately, some worries for many of you. ” A cut in 30 000 jobs would be “absurd,” she wrote. She expects “that the group’s board of directors will immediately and unequivocally make it clear: There are no mental games about any job cuts.” IG Metall, which is very influential at Volkswagen, emphasized: “It is clear that job cuts from 30 000 jobs are not debatable.”

Another source had previously reported that Diess had presented a possible long-term scenario of what could happen if the supply crisis for microchips persists or the scheduling of future VW projects has to be reconsidered. In this context, he then aggressively broached the situation at the headquarters – to the surprise of the inspectors. The “Handelsblatt” also described a new “scandal” with the overseers. According to other voices, there was initially no question of a dispute of this magnitude.

The group is under pressure

From the environment of the employee representatives, it was reported that the top manager had his thoughts on obviously a parallel was drawn to the high overcapacities in the 1990 years. At that time, the switch to a four-day week enabled good 30 000 VW jobs to be saved. At the moment there is a completely different situation.

Nevertheless, Volkswagen is under pressure. In Wolfsburg in particular, the company is currently idling considerably. Short-time working for tens of thousands of employees had to be extended several times because – as with other providers – important semiconductors were missing. Regardless of these acute bottlenecks, parts of the workforce are concerned about sufficient plant occupancy in the coming period. It will also depend on whether other major projects such as the planned “Tesla Fighter” in Hanover, the expansion of mobility services and the expansion of the Group’s own software division Cariad will ignite Key data mentioned where exactly other battery cell plants that have been announced will be built. Lower Saxony and Saxony also see opportunities here, the works council had called for at least an additional cell factory in Germany.

In principle, employee representatives and company management have the same goal in many respects. Further e-models with increasingly self-developed networking technology are to follow as soon as possible. According to dpa information, there is no open power struggle like Mitte 2020, when Diess had accused members of the supervisory board of indiscretions of criminal behavior. The VW boss is said to have prevented his expulsion thanks to an internal apology.

Diess is known for the fact that he often brings up his thoughts in meetings spontaneously and – for the taste of the union side – quite provocatively. With the long-time works council boss Bernd Osterloh, who is meanwhile the head of personnel of the VW-Nutzfahrzeug-Holding Traton, he had several violent exchanges.

Osterloh’s successor Cavallo had declared that she preferred a calm tone. In the matter, however, she wants to fight just as hard for the interests of the workforce. Cavallo sits – like the representatives of the Porsche / Piëch families and Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) – in the powerful Presidium of the Volkswagen Supervisory Board.

Diess just received a follow-up contract in the summer until autumn 2025. In the meantime, he has also presented a new corporate strategy. With the precise implementation of electrification and digitization, the ball is now in its field, according to owners.

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