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.