In the otherwise unified works council of Volkswagen, there are signs of a possible conflict over the course of the new chairman Daniela Cavallo. A few months before the next elections for the workforce representation in spring 2022, a group wants to compete against the leading parliamentary group of IG Metall. The founders of the “We for You” list also turned to the main VW shareholders of the Porsche / Piëch families and Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) on Wednesday. In a letter they expressed sharp criticism of the attitude of the works council management. There were also – rather unusual – words of praise for the eb0enso controversial CEO Herbert Diess.
In the letter that was available to the German Press Agency, the works councils Norbert Lem and Michael Maginski attacked the head of the employee bank around Cavallo sharply. They wanted to make the big owners “on the occasion” aware that they could no longer support the “wrongdoing of the current works council, which is damaging to the company’s reputation and influencing the share price”. Accordingly, the impression is given that the majority of the colleagues are no longer behind Diess – that is “largely negatively constructed”.
This has the support of many employees
Lem told the dpa, obviously certain circles wanted to see the VW boss replaced as soon as possible. “But the support for Diess is also quite high among many employees, and many think that he is on the right track.” The criticism of him is presented too broadly.
This is under fire again from the works council management since speculating in September about extensive job cuts. However, Cavallo was particularly annoyed that the chairman of the board had previously – bypassed the employee representatives – had asked for savings proposals from other managers.
Works council against electric cars in Wolfsburg?
At a works meeting that Diess initially did not want to attend, she attacked him in front of tens of thousands of employees. SPD head of government Weil, who represents the capital side on the supervisory board for the state of Lower Saxony, but tends to vote with the employees, indicated his dissatisfaction. At Volkswagen there is a great “uncertainty that is spreading everywhere”.
According to the “We for You” founders, even under Cavallo’s predecessor Bernd Osterloh, the works council did not always advocate the concerns of the VW parent plant as clearly as it publicly presented. In the dispute about an electric model for the headquarters, the management was not to blame for the fact that the ID series, for example, was initially located in Zwickau, Saxony. The decision against an e-car for Wolfsburg was ultimately “made by the works council,” claim Lem and Maginski.
New factory planned in Wolfsburg
From the currently incumbent employee representation it was said that this accusation could not be upheld. At that time it was primarily about the question of whether VW could even launch its first e-vehicles in the volume segment in Germany. Zwickau was a compromise that the works council had clearly advocated.
The central electrical project Trinity is scheduled to start in Wolfsburg in 2026 – probably in a new factory. In her speech at the last works meeting, Cavallo emphasized: “We had agreed on an electric model for Wolfsburg, 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 pushed through that production will be concentrated in Zwickau. “
New works councils will be elected at VW in spring. IG Metall traditionally dominates; it currently has 66 of the 75 elected representatives. There are also two smaller groups and one individual candidate. The degree of organization of the union in the company is very high. In addition, she sits at key points in the VW supervisory board.
After an earlier power struggle with the works council last year, Diess declared that it wanted to break up “encrusted structures” at VW. He is firmly convinced “that the transformation will succeed. Despite Volkswagen’s strong corporate culture.” After Cavallo took office last May, the tone relaxed a little – until it escalated again in September.
Three people excluded
The IG Metall faction in the works council excluded three people in preparation for the elections. Lem is one of them. The reason given was that he had not commented on the new nomination. Group spokesman Jürgen Hildebrandt saw this as a breach of duty: “The opportunity to explain yourself to your colleagues was not taken by all three. Without this honesty and openness, there is no basis for further cooperation.” (dpa / swi)
From the data center: