VW labour leaders warn politicians not to put jobs in jeopardy

FRANKFURT: Volkswagen’s powerful labour representatives urged lawmakers not to use the carmaker as a political football ahead of national elections next month and risk threatening jobs in Germany.
The appeal came after the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) party called for Lower Saxony to sell its $9 billion Volkswagen stake to remove any German state influence and let the carmaker focus on improving its lacklustre profitability.
“Volkswagen is being criticized, in parts justifiably so, but we need to be rational, because it is about the future of thousands of jobs. Workers are worried and politicians should take this seriously,” the carmaker’s powerful labour leader Bernd Osterloh said in a statement on Thursday.
Labour leaders said 120,000 VW workers were being given a petition to sign, urging Berlin politicians not to “abuse” the carmaker during the parliamentary election campaign.
Germany’s leading carmakers and its transport authority face allegations about hiding the true levels of vehicle pollution, fuelling a perception that the auto industry and government enjoy an unduly close relationship.
Volkswagen has been struggling to bounce back from its emissions cheating admissions that have cost the company as much as $25 billion.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen said on Tuesday it would offer cash incentives of up to 10,000 euros to trade in old diesel cars, as Germany struggles to reduce harmful emissions following a cheating scandal.
The VW brand said it would offer buyers trading in an old diesel a discount on cars meeting the latest Euro 6 emissions standard, ranging from 2,000 euros ($2,363) on its up! compact cars to 10,000 euros ($11,700) for a Touareg SUV.
And the carmaker proposed an additional discount of between 1,000 and 2,380 euros for those buying more environmentally friendly hybrid, all-electric or natural-gas-powered vehicles.
The VW statement said it was “acknowledging its share of responsibility for climate and health-friendly mobility on German streets.”
The cash offers will be valid until the end of 2017, a VW spokesman said, adding that the company is considering extending them beyond Germany to cover all of Europe.
The proposed incentives come after a government-industry summit last week on tackling the high levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted from diesel cars.
Following the summit, VW, BMW, Daimler and Opel vowed to reduce emissions with free-of-charge software updates for newer vehicles and cash-for-clunkers schemes for older cars.
The VW group’s Audi, Skoda, Seat and commercial vehicle subsidiaries all presented their own versions of the scheme Tuesday, with luxury automaker Audi also offering discounts of up to 10,000 euros.
Fellow VW subsidiary Porsche announced rebates of up to 5,000 euros, but specified that they would apply to all of Europe immediately.
Rival carmaker Daimler for its part said it would offer a discount of 2,000 euros to buyers swapping their older diesels for a new, lower-emissions Mercedes-Benz by the end of the year, adding that its deal was Europe-wide as well.
Buyers of a Smart electric car will get a rebate of 1,000 euros, a Daimler spokesman said.
BMW already announced last week that it would offer a trade-in bonus of up to 2,000 euros for buyers purchasing a new, lower-emissions BMW or Mini.
Car companies have been in the spotlight over high levels of harmful NOx emissions since Volkswagen admitted to cheating regulatory emissions tests on 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide in 2015. — Agencies

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