Volkswagen CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder won labor peace last year by promising no layoffs among 103,000 western German workers until 2012.
But analysts say VW's costs are 20 percent above rivals', and cuts must come. Last week VW confirmed one plan would cut 14,000 jobs in three years. But the math is tricky. VW has 125,000 workers in Europe, including the Germans promised a free pass - and Germany is where the high wages are.
VW expects 6,000 early retirees by 2008. Needed: 8,000 victims. Will one of them be the German union deal?