FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group sought to defuse mounting tension with labor leaders by agreeing to negotiations to safeguard factories as the automaker faces billions of dollars in costs for its emissions-cheating scandal.
VW presented a unified front with management, labor and key shareholders all backing the effort, according to a statement following a meeting of top supervisory board members today.
CEO Matthias Mueller will lead the talks with labor chief Bernd Osterloh, who said last week that Herbert Diess, chief of the VW brand, "lacks reliability."
"We know and respect Mr. Mueller and Mr. Osterloh as responsible gentlemen who always have Volkswagen's best interests at heart," Wolfgang Porsche, the head of the family that controls 52 percent of the carmaker's voting shares, said in the statement. "I am convinced they will succeed in finding good solutions for VW, its employees and shareholders."
Diess, who joined Volkswagen from BMW last year, has been butting heads with Osterloh for months. The rift widened last week when the labor leader called for job protections, charging the head of Volkswagen's biggest unit with using the scandal to push through deep cutbacks. Diess will play a role in the process as he leads the effort to draft a strategy through 2025.