VW's biggest union won't agree to compulsory layoffs

Wolfsburg. While Volkswagen brand Chairman Wolfgang Bernhard puts together a turnaround plan that calls for sweeping cost cuts at Europe's biggest automaker, German metalworkers' union IG Metall warned that it will not accept compulsory jobs cuts at VW's biggest German factory.

Savings will have to come without job cuts, said Hartmut Meine, the head of IG Metall for Lower Saxony, the German state where the Wolfsburg factory is located.

"I am confident that Mr. Bernhard is an automotive professional who will uncover weak spots at VW, such as quality problems," Meine said. "But he will recognize that he is dealing with a strong IG Metall union in Wolfsburg."

Meine said about 97 percent of the workers at VW's Wolfsburg plant are IG Metall members. The recent wage deal made by VW's management and the trade unions contains provisions to improve work processes, said Meine.

It should be possible to cut costs and improve working conditions without compulsory layoffs, he added. "The opportunities in the wage agreement must be used," said Meine. Last week during a conference call with analysts, Bernhard said he would respect the wage agreement.

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