Workers at three factories belonging to German car maker Volkswagen in northern Germany staged protest demonstrations on Tuesday to turn up the pressure on management ahead of a crucial round of wage talks later this week. The powerful IG Metall labor union called on workers to attend demonstrations at VW's factories in Salzgitter, Emden and its home town of Wolfsburg. The protests come just two days before management and unions at Europe's biggest car maker are scheduled to return to the negotiating table for a crucial fifth round of talks to discuss VW's draconian cost-cutting plans on Thursday, the date when both VW's current wage agreement and the so-called
Friedenspflicht deadline banning industrial action during wage negotiations are scheduled to expire. VW is seeking a two-year wage freeze for the 103,000 staff on its German assembly lines and a 30-percent reduction in labor costs by 2011.