VW: works council boss wins against Diess – economy

The power struggle in Wolfsburg lasted only a few hours. But it was carried out with great rigor – and there is now a winner, or rather a winner: Daniela Cavallo, 46, president of the Volkswagen group works council. Herbert Diess, the CEO, is beaten.

“Dear employees,” he wrote on the VW intranet shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening, “the dialogue with you is very important to me because we have enormous tasks ahead of us”. In order to be able to physically attend the working meeting, “I am postponing the important journey to our core market, the USA”, we can read there.

This is the next chapter – or should we say: round – a deal that can only happen at Volkswagen, Europe’s largest industrial group, which is also the most reliable source of drama. The employee side, led by Cavallo, had scheduled a business meeting on November 4, the first after a nearly two-year Corona hiatus. There is also a lot to say. At Volkswagen, like with most other automakers, important ingredients are missing during these months without which cars cannot be built: computer chips. The shortage, also triggered by incorrect assessments by VW management, has repeatedly resulted in production shutdowns.

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Regardless of this, Diess and his colleagues such as brand boss Ralf Brandstätter are once again increasing the pressure on the workforce: efficiency must increase, especially at headquarters, otherwise you will fall behind, especially compared to to the main competitor Tesla. Cars would be produced there in less than 15 hours, at VW it sometimes takes twice as long. Diess has also released a tough figure in recent days: 30,000 jobs are at risk if a lot is not changed as quickly as possible.

In short: the agitation is enormous. There are discussions.

But without the boss personally, it seemed like the past few days. He was unable to attend the staff meeting, unfortunately the deadline had come to him too early. On the same day, there is an investor conference in the United States. sorry

“This behavior is unprecedented in the history of our group”

This alone was an affront in the eyes of the staff representatives, because in every company the management must show up to the company meetings. And especially at Volkswagen. The employee representatives in Wolfsburg are extremely powerful by law – and without their involvement, Diess can immediately forget about any request for change.

But then the folks at Diess came up with something that can be read as a concession to the workforce – or as a final provocation: this Thursday evening, the management side invited its own discussion. “Under the motto ‘Employees ask, Herbert Diess answers'”, 200 employees could speak to the top boss for an hour, we suddenly read Tuesday on the intranet of VW.

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The president of the works council Daniela Cavallo: “In these times, Herbert Diess refuses to respond to the assembled workforce.

(Photo: Swen Pförtner / dpa)

Since the so far moderately appearing Cavallo, patience has been broken, it is said from the workers’ camp. They held back for six months and switched to moderation so VW could work in peace. But now it’s the end. And how.

The president of the works council circulated an open letter on Tuesday evening which constituted a frontal attack. Apparently a lot had accumulated over the past few months. “While the CEO with his surf on the Mittelland Canal, the bike demonstrations outside the factory gate or leisurely rides with his colleagues on the board make it seem like all is well, the colleagues were stuck in a bit. of time to work almost regularly for months, “began the trade unionist from IG-Metal. This is” a dramatic situation that has never happened before.

This was the tone of their always robust predecessor Bernd Osterloh: “Herbert Diess prefers Wall Street investors to his own workforce – this behavior is unprecedented in the history of our group and shows once again that the CEO has no empathy even in this crisis yet has some idea of ​​the workforce situation, ”she continued.

Some very powerful people in Wolfsburg no longer want to admit mistakes to Diess

The clarity of the words may also be due to the circumstances. In the coming year there will be elections to the works council and in a few days there will also be the “planning round” – the annual meeting of the supervisory board in which decisions are made on investments. by billions and the occupation of factories around the world. So on jobs. But Cavallo was just outraged by the rude behavior on the part of the employer, so it can be heard.

The fact that the CEO slipped a dialogue event “by his own script” into the calendar instead of appearing at the business meeting “shows us that Dr Diess continues to have no interest in constructive cooperation.” Plus – it’s a reference to the fact that notorious provocateur Diess still offends quite a bit of it – to a point that has repeatedly brought him to the brink of expulsion. In this regard, Cavallo’s letter was to be understood as a final warning.

This Wednesday’s VW presidium and supervisory board meetings should have gone to Cavallo – there are certainly powerful people in Wolfsburg who don’t want to admit another big mistake to Herbert Diess, no matter how successful he is. works on the result. In any case, he gave in on Wednesday night: he’s coming to the meeting, his own dialogue event has been canceled – as has the trip to the United States.

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