MEXICO CITY -- The labor union at the Mexican unit of Volkswagen AG sought to clinch an 8.5 percent salary increase on Monday, two days ahead of a deadline to go on strike.
Jose Luis Rodriguez, leader of the 9,800 unionized workers at Volkswagen's Mexico plant, said the 8.5 percent demand was an opening salvo in annual salary review talks with management. The union also wants a 4.1 percent hike in benefits, he said.
"That's our starting point," Rodriguez told Reuters ahead of wage talks with management later on Monday. "We are about to start negotiations. Both positions are negotiable."
Union workers plan to strike at Volkswagen Mexico, the sole maker of the New Beetle car that is exported to 80 countries, on Wednesday at 11 a.m (1600 GMT) if no accord is reached.
Volkswagen Mexico spokesman Luis Miguel Briones said that salary talks with the union were scheduled to begin in Mexico City later on Monday.
Speaking from the city of Puebla, two hours by road east of the Mexican capital where the Volkswagen plant is located, Briones said he did not know what management planned to offer the union.
At the outset of pay talks last year, the union demanded a 13.6 percent salary increase and eventually agreed to a 5.25 percent hike.
Volkswagen Mexico cut its 2004 production target in February to 235,000 vehicles from 250,000 because of a decline in export demand, especially from the United States.