October 31, 2007 / 3:55 PM / in 12 years

Thousands of VW staff halt work amid Porsche spat

HAMBURG, Germany, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Thousands of workers at Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG.DE) western German plants temporarily downed tools on Wednesday amid a labour row with Porsche AG (PSHG_p.DE), the biggest shareholder in Europe’s biggest carmaker.

The VW works council said 40,000 staff at its main plant in Wolfsburg alone stopped work to be briefed on the dispute over workers’ rights at a new holding company being set up to hold the Porsche and Piech family’s stakes in the two companies.

VW workers want more say at the holding company in case Porsche increases its 31 percent VW stake to a majority, now that a German law capping voting rights at VW has been struck down. Porsche has rejected the demand.

“There is great disquiet and insecurity among the staff,” deputy VW works council head Bernd Wehlauer said, adding some workers worried that Porsche may try to break up Volkswagen should it gain control, something Porsche has denied.

Volkswagen said it would be able to make up lost production from the one-hour work stoppages.

((Reporting by Jan Schwartz, writing by Michael Shields; michael.shields@reuters.com; Reuters Messaging: michael.shields.reuters.com@reuters.net; +49 69 7565 1266)) Keywords: VOLKSWAGEN PORSCHE/

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