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At Volkswagen, Worker Opposition Mounts to Rumored Takeover of Italy's Fiat

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Bernd Osterloh is one of Germany’s most powerful union leaders. He has headed VW’s works council since 2005. The company recently announced that it was seeking to cut costs by €5 billion a year up to 2017.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Volkswagen is looking to cut costs by €5 billion a year up to 2017.
    • Bernd Osterloh is the company’s top labor representative and a member of the supervisory board.
    • The labor union has to approve any major policies taken at the company.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
Betriebsversammlung VW
Workers at Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfgsburg listen to the chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, during a July 23 meeting. Source: DPA

 

Bernd Osterloh is one of Germany’s most powerful union leaders. He has headed Volkswagen’s works council since 2005. He is also part of the VW supervisory board’s steering committee and was recently appointed to the VW Group’s group of directors in the United States. He spoke to Die Zeit about how the company is striving for greater efficiency while avoiding job cuts.

Die Zeit: Mr. Osterloh, Volkswagen is rushing from one success to the next. In the last fiscal year, the company earned more than €11 billion ($14.8 billion) in profits, and VW could produce more than 10 million vehicles for the first time in 2014. Nevertheless, there have suddenly been rumblings at VW. There are rumors you plan to take over Fiat, and CEO Martin Winterkorn aims to cut costs by €5 billion a year by 2017. What’s going on at VW?

Bernd Osterloh: Internally, we’re discussing how to become more efficient. In public, however, there is constant talk of cost-cutting, which irritates me. Let me clear something up: It isn’t about saving money, but about using it more intelligently. There’s a huge difference.

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