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US senator warns VW against permitting a works council

A US senator has advised German carmaker Volkswagen not to have a works council set up in its plant in Tennessee. The politicians said it would it would be a huge mistake to let the UAW union gain strength.

Republican US Senator Bob Corker told Monday's edition of the German business daily "Handelsblatt" he had warned Volkswagen of supporting the setting up of a works council at the German carmaker's plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Cork argued the company was "terribly naive" and would commit one of the biggest mistakes in its history.

VW inaugurated the facility in May 2011. According to the "Handelsblatt", it's the only big plant of the auto maker without a proper employees' representation, and VW's global works council wanted to change this.

"One thing has to be sure," the head of the council, Bernd Osterloh, told the daily, "For us, democracy does not stop when there's a fence around a production facility, and that principle of ours is not up for debate."

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US Senator Bob Corker said he was afraid the US United Autoworkers' Union (UAW) might succeed in its efforts to represent the VW employees and would turn into a foothold in organizing employees of foreign-owned carmakers in the South where it has no influence yet.

Corker claimed Chattanooga could become "a second Detroit," alluding to that city's economic decline which conservative policy makers have attributed, among other things, to a number of perks for workers secured by the UAW.

German-styled works councils include both employees and executives who cooperate on many production-related issues, but generally do not negotiate wages or benefits.

hg/hc (Reuters, AFP)

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