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VW eases up on its board while workers raise the pressure

Citing a lack of incriminating findings, company leadership has planned to let its board off the hook for Dieselgate. But VW workers are taking issue with the board's treatment, demanding bonuses for all or none.

Volkwagen said Wednesday that it plans to clear its entire 2015 board of blame for the Dieselgate scandal during its highly-anticipated - and likely-to-be tumultuous - annual stakeholder meeting on June 22.

The Dieselgate scandal was sparked by revelations last year of the German carmaker's widespread use emissions test-cheating software in millions of its diesel vehicles. The fallout has led to billions of dollars in penalties, losses and measures to replace the faulty hardware.

Investigations into the causes of the scandal are still ongoing, but VW leadership said its plan to exonerate the oversight committee was justified, as "no clear and serious violations of duty" by current or former board members have been found to date.

Volkswagen added that the situation will of course change if any incriminating discoveries are made in the run-up to the June meeting.

"Bonuses for all"

Also on Wednesday, nearly 60,000 VW employees took to the streets, as workers confront company leadership over compensation.

VW Betriebsratschef Bernd Osterloh

VW worker representative and board member Bernd Osterloh

In an address, worker representative Bernd Osterloh called for bonuses to be distributed to the company's workers in times of successful business. "As a workforce we have clearly and continuously said: either bonuses for no one or bonuses for all," Osterloh said during an address.

VW's managers are to date likely only to forgo 30 percent of their expected bonuses.

Some managers have called for the workforce to make concessions elsewhere in exchange for bonuses. Osterloh, a board member himself, dismissed the idea as "nothing more than a slight of hand."

The next round of negotiations is expected to take place on May 19.

Qatar nominates female representative

Meanwhile, the country of Qatar - VW's third-largest shareholder - has nominated a woman for its first time to the company's supervisory board, according to a statement by VW on Wednesday.

Hessa al-Jaber, who has been Qatar's first minister of information and communications technology since 2013, will be assuming the responsibility.

Hessa al-Jaber Katar

Hessa al-Jaber, Qatar's latest nomination to VW's supervisory board

Appointments to the supervisory board will be decided on during the company's June 22 annual meeting.

Volkswagen is working to fulfill a newly-mandated quota set by the German government, requiring at least 30 percent of supervisory board seats to be occupied by women. There are currently two other women among the ten seats allocated in the board to shareholder representatives.

jtm/uhe (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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