VW group Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder and new VW brand Chairman Wolfgang Bernhard will have more power when they negotiate with labor unions to cut costs at the automaker, supplier sources said.
"There are new cards on the table," said an executive at a partsmaker that supplies VW.
"I bet Pischetsrieder and Bern-hard are secretly quite pleased," another supplier boss said.
Last week Bernhard unveiled to workers his plans to turn around the loss-making VW brand, including E7 billion savings by 2008.
Most savings will come from optimizing purchasing, but Bernhard also wants to cut thousands of jobs and change shift patterns at the company's giant Wolfsburg plant.
Before the scandal, Bernhard would have faced a tough fight with labor representatives. But the resignation on June 30 of influential chief employee representative Klaus Volkert as head of VW's works council weakened the position of labor unions, supplier sources say.
Volkert, 62, head of VW's works council since 1990, was said by some observers to be the real boss at VW.
The scandal was triggered by claims that Helmuth Schuster, personnel chief at VW's Skoda unit, had asked suppliers for bribes.
The affair could end the cozy relationship between VW management, the works council and politicians.
As in many German companies, workers' representatives sit on VW's supervisory board. But VW includes labor representatives in decision-making more than most German companies.
That cooperation has avoided damaging strikes at VW's German factories. But critics say the system has blocked any attempt to reform high labor costs. VW costs are 40 percent higher than at rivals, Bernhard told staff in a newsletter.
Pischetsrieder called in independent auditors KPMG to investigate the allegations. He also postponed VW's plans to open assembly plants in India and Angola because of fears that construction suppliers may have been asked for bribes.