In view of the discussions about massive job cuts at the VW brand, unrest is growing among the workforce. For this Thursday, the works council has therefore scheduled an additional works council meeting at the Wolfsburg parent plant. General Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh would like to inform employees about the negotiations with the Board of Management on the so-called Pact for the Future. In advance, Osterloh answered questions in writing from Christina Lohner and Andre Dolle.
Mr. Osterloh, the Group is facing a historic transformation. What worries are currently driving the staff, what is the mood like – and can you reare them?
Of course, many of the colleagues are worried. So that they do not have to rely on speculation, but get first-hand facts, we are holding the additional works council meeting on Thursday. Our most important message to the workforce: core jobs are safe, that's a red line for us.
How many jobs will be cut and over what period – on the one hand to increase efficiency and productivity, and on the other as a result of the Group's restructuring toward more electric cars?
We are also talking about these ies in the negotiations on the Pact for the Future. And there is still no agreement. It's the same as always: the company wants to eliminate more jobs, we want fewer. For us as the works council, the principle is unalterable: It's not about across-the-board job cuts, but about transformation. In certain areas, tasks will be eliminated in the future as a result of the shift to e-mobility, but at the same time we will see a build-up in other areas. It is very important that we shape the transformation along the demographic curve. We have many colleagues in the company who were born in the 1960s, the so-called baby boomers. If we make it possible for these colleagues to retire earlier with the help of partial retirement, we can adjust the workforce without any problems. Over ten years, that could be 1.500 to 2.500 colleagues. But the latter is the maximum limit, and we certainly won't reach it.
Where and how can savings be made in concrete terms from your point of view??
We have to make the changes along the entire value chain. This starts in the development. If we work more intensively in the early phase of the development process and meet the cost targets for the products, then there is huge potential here. We also need to further reduce the number of variants. We have parts with installation rates below three percent. But they have to be developed, they have to be produced or purchased, and the logistics have to be paid for. That would incur high costs. And the customer would obviously not miss anything. We have a separate working group in the Pact for the Future called "Value Engineering" to deal with these ies. In this respect, Mr. Jorg Teichmann, the Dr. Herbert Diess to Volkswagen is doing an outstanding job. We expect that the findings of the working group will now be implemented in our regular processes. This will save us hundreds of millions of euros in the long term.
Will the level of salaries be changed or will more temporary workers be used??
There will be no changes to the collective agreement with us. Even if the Board of Management would like to. We will not make our colleagues pay for the failures of others.
Exactly how many jobs will be created where, according to your estimates?
We also discuss this in the Pact for the Future. The fact is that we are demanding, for example, that new jobs in the area of digitization and mobility services be created at the Group's headquarters in Wolfsburg. And in the area of IT. We want Wolfsburg to become the Silicon Valley of the VW Group – which does not mean that we will not continue to develop our labs in the Valley, in Munich or Berlin. We also need this know-how and these locations. But we expect an offensive here at Group headquarters as well. Wolfsburg's mayor Klaus Mohrs is also prepared to talk flexibly with Volkswagen about how the city can support this with land, infrastructure or other measures. Now the Board of Management must move and make concrete commitments here. But that is just one example. Future fields will also be established at other sites.
How many employees will be trained for new jobs or gain new qualifications?? And what's in store for them?
It is too early to give a figure. But one thing is clear: There will certainly be changes in some areas. That means further training, new tasks or even deployment in new areas. To this end, we are working on qualification concepts in the "Basic Personnel Ies" working group. We expect the Human Resources department in particular to respond individually to the colleagues concerned. And we as the Works Council will be paying particularly close attention to this.
How are the negotiations on the pact for the future going, where are there still disagreements with the Group?? Nobody wants VW to cut jobs in Wolfsburg, Salzgitter or Braunschweig. Only: The Works Council does not decide alone. VW brand board member Diess seems to be a tough negotiator. Or is the impression deceptive??
We are agreed on the goal, namely to make Volkswagen fit for the future. But we are arguing hard on the substance, i.e. on how to get there. The Board of Management would certainly have liked to go through with its savings and cutback plans unhindered. Our task is to protect the interests of our colleagues in this process, and so far we have succeeded in doing so. It's also clear that if we don't get any hard product commitments backed up by investments, the pact for the future could still fail. We still don't have satisfactory answers on battery production. And also the plant allocation for the vehicle manufacturing locations is still pending.
Can you already say more about the sites in the region in terms of their future orientation??
All plants must be given a future perspective. Only then will there be a pact for the future with us. But it would not be helpful at the moment to talk publicly about interim results. This only stirs up new speculation that unsettles our colleagues.
When will the pact for the future be in place??
No one can say yet. As I said: It can still fail. But both sides, the Board of Management and us, are seriously struggling to find solutions.
What makes you so sure that the job cuts will go as you forecast??
We are now setting a roadmap with the board for the transformation to increasing shares of e-mobility. By 2025, the share of e-vehicles sold will be around 25 percent. And Volkswagen will be at the forefront of the automotive industry there. This means that we will not have overnight changes. This will be a remodeling process that will take years to complete. And we will accompany this closely so that our colleagues do not fall by the wayside in the process. We will have to work hard for this in the coming years. And as IG Metall, we're the guarantor that this won't go unchecked, as it has in other companies. The pact for the future is a detailed roadmap to ensure that e-mobility and digitization are shaped with the workforce. Not against them.