It just posted its largest loss ever and is up to its eyebrows in scandal-related expenses, so what’s an automaker to do when the hands come out asking for more?
That’s the situation in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the scandal-rocked Volkswagen and its workers’ labor union find themselves engaged in an uncomfortable dance, according to Automotive News Europe.
The union, IG Metall, says the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal is no excuse for holding back raises to its 120,000 staff members, and Volkswagen says, “What? Sorry, can’t hear you — we’re driving into a tunnel…call back later.”
IG Metall is seeking a five percent pay raise for the workers. Volkswagen, meanwhile, just plummeted from prosperity to a 4.1 billion euro ($4.6 billion) operating loss for 2015, and just had to set aside $16.2 billion euros ($18.2 billion) to pay its U.S. settlement costs.
In addition to that, it has proposed to cut its stock dividend by 97 percent,
Volkswagen’s human resources chief Martin Rosik was heard saying that a “measured settlement is more important than ever,” outside of a wage meeting today.
Though the company says its hands are full and pockets empty, the union is not having any of that.
“Workers on the assembly line, at the foundry or in administration have not carried out manipulations,” said Hartmut Meine, the union’s main pay negotiator. “That is why the workers will not pay the price. Others have to take the responsibility.”
If Volkswagen doesn’t acquiesce to the union demands, IG Metall could have its workers on the picket line on May 31, the day their wage contract runs out. Before that happens, the union wants the employer to table its offer to employees at a May 2 meeting.