Volkswagen labour leader lashes out at CEO ahead of board meeting - Metro US

Volkswagen labour leader lashes out at CEO ahead of board meeting

FILE PHOTO: A Volkswagen ID.6 X is displayed ahead of the Shanghai Auto Show, in Shanghai

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s labour leader took aim at Chief Executive Herbert Diess, accusing him of not taking an interest in workers’ concerns and rekindling a long-standing conflict ahead of a supervisory board meeting on Wednesday.

Emotions at Europe’s largest carmaker are running high ever since Diess told a supervisory board meeting last month that the company could lose 30,000 jobs if it transitioned too slowly to electric vehicles.

The comments on Wednesday by Daniela Cavallo — who became Volkswagen’s works council head this year and replaced Bernd Osterloh, a fierce opponent of Diess — mark a fresh low point in a relationship that has for years been fraught with conflict.

They come after it became clear that Diess, who is aggressively pushing Volkswagen to catch up and overtake Tesla, would not take part in a staff meeting scheduled for Nov. 4 and instead meet with investors and politicians in the United States.

“The reason for the cancellation is telling. Herbert Diess is preferring Wall Street investors over the company’s workforce – this behaviour is unprecedented in the history of our group and once again shows that even in times of crisis the group chief executive has no empathy or sense for the situation of the workforce,” Cavallo said.

“He is simply not taking an interest in the concerns of the workforce.”

A VW spokesperson said Diess’ U.S. trip had been planned for some time and could not be rescheduled at short notice. Diess, meantime, has invited staff at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant to a Q&A session on Oct. 28, the day of third-quarter results.

The conflict is expected to be discussed at a supervisory board meeting scheduled for later on Wednesday, which will centre around the carmaker’s investment plans for the next five years. Those are scheduled to be agreed on Nov. 12.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Jan Schwartz; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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