Volkswagen is heading for a showdown with trade unions by planning to extend the working week for its German employees from 28.8 to 35 hours, without offering any form of pay rise.
The car manufacturer is currently in the middle of a restructuring programme aimed at cutting costs and increasing profitability.
The IG Metall union opposes the move, arguing that there isn’t enough work to do at present. Even if the union eventually agrees to the move, Volkswagen personnel chief, Horst Neumann, said that it would be “very difficult” to maintain the level of employment, currently about 100,000 people.
Volkswagen has previously said it planned to slash 20,000 jobs in its worldwide operations, but has yet to announce how.
The current labour agreement, struck in November 2004, does not allow Volkswagen to lay off any workers for financial reasons at its six plants in western Germany until 2011.
The plan follows similar moves in Germany by rival carmaker DaimlerChrysler and engineering giant Siemens, which both extended working hours with no extra pay.