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Business

VW board fails to end battle over bonuses

Volkswagen's (VW's) top management has failed to head off a growing row over bonus payments to key executives as the troubled German carmaker tries to come to grips with an emissions scandal.

During a three-hour meeting of the VW supervisory board's executive committee on Monday, the six-member panel failed to reach agreement on a bonus plan for the carmaker's top executives devised by VW chief executive (CEO) Matthias Müller.

Müller, who replaced former CEO Martin Winterkorn in September 2015 at the height of VW's emissions-cheating scandal, has proposed a voluntary cut in bonuses by about 30 percent for top managers at the embattled carmaker.

VW's supervisory board is made up of chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch, representatives of the company's main shareholders - the Porsche and Piech families - as well as the federal state of Lower Saxony and the engineering union IG Metall.

On Monday, Stephan Weil - the premier of Lower Saxony - joined the board's labor union representative in calling for bonuses to be scrapped altogether as the carmaker deals with the mounting costs of the emissions scandal.

"The board talks over the bonus payments are ongoing, the results of which I cannot and I do not intend to pre-empt," Weil said after the meeting.

VW is facing billions in costs as a result of the lawsuits, recalls and official investigations that were launched around the world after it admitted in September to manipulating exhaust emissions tests for about 11 million vehicles.

But the call for management to completely forego bonus payments has met with stiff resistance from some executives. The carmaker has to reach an agreement on bonus payments by April 28, when it's due to unveil its annual results.

CEO Müller has called for "belt-tightening" at all levels of the company. His failure to strike a deal on the bonus payments could complicate negotiations with the powerful IG Metall union over the planned job cuts.

In November, VW announced plans to trim its workforce and cap investment spending at 12 billion euros ($14 billion) in 2016 in a bid to help meet the costs of the scandal. The company has so far not provided any details about the job cuts.

uhe/kd (DPA, AFP, Reuters)

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