VW cancels night shifts amid Golf production problems

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Volkswagen has agreed with labor representatives to reduce the number of night shifts at its Wolfsburg factory in Germany, as the automaker seeks to root out glitches that have stifled output of the Golf at its largest plant.

VW is struggling to realize hoped-for efficiencies from its new MQB modular platform, a step that has already led it to make heavy modifications to the production line and to replace production chief Michael Macht.

Production problems in Wolfsburg will cause annual output to be "clearly below" its targeted 850,000 cars, but remain above the 807,000 produced last year, sources familiar with the company have said.

On Wednesday Bilanz magazine reported that VW's works council had decided to cancel scheduled Sunday shifts during the third quarter. The shifts were planned to help it make up production shortfalls.

Technical glitches prevent the production line at Wolfsburg from running smoothly, so the works council sees little point in moving ahead with the extra shifts, the magazine said.

Asked about the report, VW's works council said the company would continue to run extra shifts on Saturday and Sunday because of robust demand for the Golf but added that a few night shifts on Sundays had been canceled.

Volkswagen said it had agreed with labor representatives not to go ahead with six Sunday overnight shifts, out of 19 extra shifts that had been planned in the third quarter.

In addition to normal production, Wolfsburg has already run nine extra shifts this quarter, the company said in a statement.

Production has resumed after the summer break, a time used to complete 270 construction and maintenance projects at the Wolfsburg site, including resurfacing roads and renovating facilities, a VW spokesman said.

A timetable for shift work in Wolfsburg in the fourth quarter has not yet been drawn up, a spokesman for the works council said on Wednesday.

Wolfsburg is VW's global headquarters and a union fortress, with 97 percent of its workforce organized labor.

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