With pay talks at Volkswagen apparently not making progress, as many as 15,000 of the carmakers’ workers down tools briefly on Monday. The so-called warning strikes came as a sixth round of negotiations on wages and cost cuts got underway. The talks have been deadlocked. The union wants a pay-rise and job guarantees. VW says it needs a pay-freeze for two years and other concessions. Chief union negotiator Hartmut Meine said: “Management is aware the union has a double strategy: to increase the pressure with these warning strikes and – at the same time – continue negotiating. We want the management to get things moving at Volkswagen. And we are somewhat optimistic that we may be able to come a step closer to each other in the negotiations and work on a result.”
Relations between management and unions are at an all-time low. After this latest round of talks the union has the right to declare the negotiations have failed and it could then call an all out strike, which would be the first ever in VW’s home base of western Germany. It says it has no plans to do that right now. The company needs to make cuts due to losses at its core Volkswagen brand thanks to fierce competition that have kept prices under severe pressure. As a group VW is still profitable because of its luxury Audi brand and its thriving financial services business.