Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess is facing a vote of no confidence over his handling of the automaker, according to multiple reports in the German press.
Diess, who has been in the position since 2018, has had a contentious relationship with the company’s workforce this year, and said in recent weeks that 30,000 jobs were at risk due to the company’s push towards electric vehicles.
According to reporting in Handelsblatt, the employees’ council at VW is pushing for a vote of no confidence, a move that the paper says could lead to Diess being shunted from his post. Officially, however, no one at VW is commenting.
But reporting yesterday from Reuters suggests that a specially-convened committee is soon to meet in order to discuss Diess’s future.
The news service said: “The planned meeting of the rarely-summoned mediation committee of VW’s supervisory board comes in response to tensions between management and its works council, after sources said Diess told a recent meeting of the board that 30,000 jobs were at risk as part of the group’s electric vehicles push. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, could not confirm when the meeting would take place.”
German publication Manager Magazin states that VW cutting 30,000 jobs would reduce the workforce by around a quarter.
Diess’s tenure at VW began the year well, according to that publication, with half-year profits in 2021 of €11.4bn. But following the global shortage in chips used to manufacture cars, sales of VW vehicles have slumped. Diess’ reaction has been to advocate for the cutting of jobs, saying that VW was spending too much to produce its products.
This cutting of jobs may prove to be Diess’s undoing. Says Manager Magazin: “Diess is not considered untouchable. He can still count on the backing of the Porsche and Piech families. However, the laws at VW also include the following: Anyone who permanently opposes the powerful works council has no future in the Group. As head of VW, Diess must succeed in getting companies and employees on a common line.”
Following the release of the news, shares in VW fell 4.7%. Overall, the company’s share price has plummeted from €206.10 on 26 October to €186.74 today.