Wolfsburg: Volkswagen’s new CEO has told more than 20,000 workers that overcoming its emissions- rigging scandal will “not happen without pain” and that the company will have to review its investment plans.
Matthias Mueller vowed today that “we will overcome this crisis” but said that the company would have to be more careful about costs.
He told the meeting at the company’s sprawling home plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, that the company would have to put its future investments in plants, technology and vehicles “under scrutiny” to spend only what was needed to maintain a leading edge.
“We will do everything to ensure that Volkswagen will stand for good and secure jobs in the future as well,” he told concerned workers.
The head of Volkswagen’s influential employee council said later today that the scandal won’t have any immediate effect on jobs.
“It is not possible to say today whether and how this wrongdoing could affect our jobs in the medium and long term,” Bernd Osterloh told reporters. But “at the moment … there are no consequences for jobs,” including those of temporary workers, he added.
Employees at Volkswagen’s German factories at the very least face a possible reduction in their profit-sharing checks. Those under the union contract received 5,900-euro bonuses for 2014, when the company made net profit of 10.8 billion euros. Analysts have been slashing profit forecasts for this year and next.
Volkswagen AG faces fines and lost sales after US environmental regulators found it had installed software that disabled pollution controls when the vehicle was not on the testing stand. The company has set aside USD 7.3 billion to cover costs but analysts say that likely is not enough.
Osterloh also acknowledged that recovering from the scandal won’t be painless. But he said the employee council “will watch carefully that this crisis, which was caused by a circle of managers, is not settled on the backs of employees.”
“We assume that, for reasons of decency, the management board’s bonus will in case of doubt fall in the same way as the workforce’s bonus,” he said.
Mueller said some of the affected cars – more than 11 million diesel engine vehicles worldwide – could be fixed by adjusting the software, while others would need hardware fixes. He didn’t elaborate.
Volkswagen has until tomorrow to give German regulators a binding timetable that sets out when it will have a fix for the cars in the country and by when it can be implemented.
Osterloh said Mueller’s speech went down well with employees, and added that he “can count on the support of employees to put Volkswagen back on the right track.”
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