Conflict between VW boss Diess and the works council breaks out again

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Only a few months after the last major conflict with the employee representatives, which ended in the loss of the post as brand boss, VW CEO Herbert Diess is apparently looking for a confrontation again. According to a media report, the current development could even result in a “short-term replacement” from Diess.

According to a report by the “Handelsblatt”, VW CEO Herbert Diess should seek to extend his contract. This will run until April 2023. Since Diess is also pushing for an early extension, the supervisory board or the supervisory board presidium will probably deal with the issue “in the next few days”.

According to an insider, Diess wants to receive confirmation from the Supervisory Board for its current course with the contract extension. Diess has placed his wishes in a targeted manner and a decision is now needed, quoted the “Handelsblatt” group circles.

But: The works council does not want to approve the project. The employees as well as the Porsche / Piech families and the state of Lower Saxony as the largest shareholders were surprised by the initiative. Neither party is currently interested in escalating the conflict. According to the “Handelsblatt”, however, it is conceivable that Diess and the Supervisory Board would “no longer find a common line” – and instead of a contract extension, a short-term replacement is threatened.

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In early summer there was an escalation in the ongoing conflict between the VW boss and the works council. Diess saw itself discredited in public by IG Metall representatives and subsequently accused the supervisory board of violating the law, but without providing any evidence – confidential information that was only accessible to a small group of people was supposed to be passed on to the media. Diess apparently saw the leak on the employee side.

Since the unproven accusation of breach of the law had shaken the trust of the Supervisory Board in Diess, a separation was even in the room at that time and was even prepared specifically. In the end, however, the control committee decided on a lighter variant: The VW brand was withdrawn from Diess (and transferred to Ralf Brandstätter), but he was allowed to remain CEO.

In the past week, the relationship with the employee representatives had deteriorated again. At LinkedIn, Diess wrote: “When I took office in Wolfsburg, I firmly resolved to change the VW system.” However, he did not succeed in doing this, especially at corporate headquarters. Last Friday, Diess was not even invited to a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the works council at Volkswagen. In his greeting, however, he warned that increases in efficiency are necessary and should not be underestimated for the continued existence of companies. “Here at Volkswagen we still have some catching up to do,” said Diess.

For this goal of changing the “Wolfsburg Fortress”, Diess now wants confirmation from the Board of Directors. This is not only about Diess’s personality, but also other board members. CFO Frank Witter wants to retire in 2021. VW renovator Diess wants to bring his confidante Arno Antlitz, who is currently head of the finance department at Audi, to Wolfsburg. Since during his time as CFO of the VW brand there were always conflicts with the works council, works council chief Bernd Osterloh Antlitz should “all around” reject it, according to the Handelsblatt.

Another possible change at board level concerns the Volkswagen brand: As the “Business Insider” claims from corporate circles, the. From the end of 2021, when almost only electric cars will be produced in Zwickau and the ID.4 has celebrated its market entry positions of the electrical board held by Thomas Ulbrich are clearly deposed. The tasks and the linked structures should then be reintegrated into the “overall organization of production” at VW. By then, electric cars should be “mainstream” at Volkswagen and no longer need a separate organization.

In a year at the latest, e-Mobility board member Thomas Ulbrich would expect new tasks. According to the report, it is possible that Ulbrich – previously Vice President at SAIC-VW for several years – will go to China. Specifically about the joint venture with JAC. This joint venture is to participate in the development of the MEB small car from Volkswagen.
handelsblatt.com, businessinsider.de

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