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VW workforce information in Wolfsburg: Cavallo and Diess exchange blows

The podium was prominently occupied: VW boss Herbert Diess, works council chief Daniela Cavallo, Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil and IG Metall boss Jrg Hofmann spoke one after the other to the 3,000 to 4,000 VW employees who had gathered in Hall 11. Everyone else could watch via the intranet, which, according to the works council, was used by tens of thousands. The works council had previously specifically called for virtual participation. The approved number of 7,000 participants in the hall was therefore not even exhausted, it was said.

In her speech, Cavallo countered recent speculations about the dismissal of CEO Herbert Diess. “This is not about individuals,” she said, according to the manuscript of the speech Automobile week is present. “The only thing that interests us are solutions to the challenges ahead.” At the same time, however, she made her displeasure with Diess clear: “I have no desire to continue to rely on promises made by the Group Management Board that in the end will not be kept anyway. And what’s more: We can’t afford it either!”

Cavallo speaks of failure in semiconductor crisis

Cavallo particularly criticized the regular production outages in Wolfsburg due to a lack of semiconductors. “What we are seeing in semiconductors is an indictment,” she said. “It is an indictment of a global corporation! And it is your responsibility, dear corporate executives! Especially since there are definitely other automobile manufacturers that can get through the crisis better.”

As a result, production in Wolfsburg will probably fall to its lowest level in more than 60 years this year. “If all goes well, we will only reach 400,000 by 2021!” That would be significantly less than in the Corona year 2020, when production at the main plant fell below 500,000 for the first time since 1958. “The truth is that our Group Management Board, for which you are responsible, Dr. Diess, does not manage to keep our plant running at full capacity!”

Cavallo: “There is not one too many people on board here”

She also expressed harsh criticism of Diess’ most recent comments about possible job cuts. “I really wonder whether you are actually aware of this situation here at our location and how it is received by the workforce,” she said to the CEO. “But the fact is: there is not one person too many on board here.” And added: “So stop speculating about downsizing and work with us to find solutions!”

Comparisons with the new Tesla plant in Grnheide, where 10,000 employees are to build 500,000 cars per year, Cavallo rejected. Because even in Wolfsburg, only a small part of the 60,000 employees at the site are actually involved in vehicle production. Only 13,000 are directly involved in car construction. “If we take the set 820,000 cars that were targeted for Wolfsburg, we would still do pretty well in comparison.”

IG Metall boss Hofmann, who is also the vice-chairman of the VW supervisory board, criticized Diess. “A coach who has no access to the team will lose the game on the pitch,” he said of his speech. The restructuring of the auto industry is a Herculean task that requires a motivated workforce. The transformation can only succeed together with the employees, not against them, says Hofmann.

Diess: “Displeasure is entirely appropriate”

Diess defended his course and campaigned to design the renovation together. At the same time, however, he also expressed an understanding of the discontent among the workforce. At the main plant in Wolfsburg, in particular, there are currently regular shifts due to missing chips, and employees are sent on short-time work. “It is clear to me that you want to go back to the factory,” he told the assembled employees. “The displeasure is entirely appropriate.”

But he could not give the all-clear for a short time: The chip shortage will also be with us next year, said Diess according to his speech manuscript Automobile week is present. “The supply is getting better, but we won’t be able to build every car.” There is already an enormous production backlog for the Golf: “118,000 orders have been placed for the Golf. We have already sold all the cars that will come into production in Wolfsburg in the first three months of next year.” At the same time, Diess affirmed that the Gulf in particular is extremely important for the group. “The sale of our combustion engines finances the change to an electric, digital, fully networked car.”

Diess actually wanted to build ID.3 in Wolfsburg

With a view to Cavallo’s request for an early e-model for the main plant before 2026, which the works council boss confirmed at the meeting, Diess reminded that he actually wanted to start the e-offensive in Wolfsburg and not in Zwickau. “At that time I also wanted to start the ID.3 in Wolfsburg,” said Diess. “At that time it was said: wait and see first.” That is why the model was started in Zwickau. According to reports, Cavallo’s predecessor Bernd Osterloh is said to have resisted the production of electric cars at the headquarters.

Cavallo strongly contradicted: “You know why this is not true,” she said. “We had agreed on an electric model for Wolfsburg in the future pact, but then the electric models should be bundled at one location, namely in Bratislava. In order to keep the jobs in Germany, we as the works council have enforced that production be concentrated in Zwickau. Now Wolfsburg must follow suit! “

That so Diess is also planned for the Trinity 2026. With the upcoming renovation of the main factory for the lighthouse model, Diess campaigned to significantly increase productivity and appealed to the employees to shape the change together. “Yes, I’m worried about Wolfsburg,” said Diess. “My appeal: let’s change direction! Let’s make Volkswagen future-proof!”

Zwickau should become more productive

In Zwickau, too, the desired goal of productivity had not yet been achieved, Diess conceded. While Tesla in Grnheide wants to assemble cars in just ten hours in the future, VW in Zwickau will need more than 30 hours. “We want to create 20 hours next year,” said Diess. The original goal was 16 hours. At the Trinity in Wolfsburg, he is now aiming for 10 to 12 hours. This will bring you on a par with Tesla. Diess: “We mustn’t let Tesla in Grnheide destroy our location, our corporate headquarters.” At the same time, he made a clear commitment to the location: “Wolfsburg in particular is important for the Group and has to be the spearhead.”

The employees in the hall made their displeasure clear. They greeted Diess with transparts that said “Fair change only with us” and “Diess has a problem”. At the same time, they gave a clear rejection of the 30,000 job cuts that Diess is said to have speculated about in September: “Not me, us, Herbert!”

Applause fr Cavallo

Cavallo, on the other hand, was greeted with standing applause for several minutes, according to participants. According to the participants, this was only interrupted once by applause: when he announced that he had canceled his trip to the USA in order to perform here.

Overall, it was said, the mood towards the boss was frosty, and there were occasional boos. Compared to previous VW meetings, the rejection turned out to be modern. “We experienced it quite differently here,” said one participant. In the choice of words, Diess was noticeably cautious and tried quite openly to show understanding for the employees. A real concession, for example in the dispute over plant occupancy and capacity utilization, was not evident.

Also read:

VW works council boss Daniela Cavallo at the workforce information in Wolfsburg: “There is not one person too many on board here”

VW boss Herbert Diess at the workforce information in Wolfsburg: “I’m worried about Wolfsburg”

Noise before the VW works meeting: There is a crunch between Diess and the supervisory board

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Lenny Li

I started to play with tech since middle school. Smart phones, laptops and gadgets are all about my life. Besides, I am also a big fan of Star War. May the force be with you!

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