* Works council key in future U.S. plant decisions -Osterloh
* Labour support for deals needed on supervisory board
* Osterloh sees "unfair labour praxis" by U.S. Republicans
BERLIN, Feb 19 Volkswagen's top
labour representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block
further investments by the German carmaker in the southern
United States if its workers there are not unionised.
Workers at VW's factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last
Friday voted against representation by the United Auto Workers
union (UAW), rejecting efforts by VW representatives to set up a
German-style works council at the plant.
German workers enjoy considerable influence over company
decisions under the legally enshrined "co-determination"
principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who
see organised labour as a threat to profits and job growth.
Chattanooga is VW's only factory in the U.S. and one of the
company's few in the world without a works council.
"I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the
United States, provided that one more should still be set up
there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south
again," said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW's works council.
"If co-determination isn't guaranteed in the first place, we
as workers will hardly be able to vote in favour" of potentially
building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also
on VW's supervisory board, said.
The 20-member panel - evenly split between labour and
management - has to approve any decision on closing plants or
building new ones.
Osterloh's comments were published on Wednesday in German
newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. A spokesman at the
Wolfsburg-based works council confirmed the remarks.
"The conservatives stirred up massive, anti-union
sentiments," Osterloh said. "It's possible that the conclusion
will be drawn that this interference amounted to unfair labour
Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, a staunch opponent of
unionisation, said last Wednesday after the first day of voting
that VW would award the factory another model if the UAW was
The comments even prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to
intervene, accusing Republicans of trying to block the
Chattanooga workforce's efforts.
Undeterred by last Friday's vote, VW's works council has
said it will press on with efforts to set up labour
representation at Chattanooga which builds the Passat sedan.