VW's labor leader rejects efficiency drive

A Volkswagen company logo adorns the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Carl Recine

BERLIN (Reuters) - Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE labor leader has rejected a push by management for a big rise in productivity at the core autos division and said planned structural changes were causing "unease" among workers, according to an interview published on Monday.

A goal from Volkswagen (VW) brand chief executive Herbert Diess to increase productivity by 10 percent this year is “unrealistic” and may result in job cuts among salaried employees, works council chief Bernd Osterloh said in an interview with online platform IG Metall bei Volkswagen.

“We will not support a further drive towards performance,” Osterloh said. “We principally view productivity in a positive way ... But we expect that VW at the same time guarantees the security of employment.”

Europe’s largest automaker, faced with multi-billion euros of costs from its emissions-cheating scandal involving up to about 11 million cars, is in the midst of overhauling its troubled namesake brand where profit margins are languishing amid high labor outlays and costly in-house production of engines, transmissions and other components.

Diess, a former BMW BMWG.DE executive, is pushing a strategic overhaul at VW's biggest division by sales, including steps to give more power to regional operations and streamline decision-making.

“The 12 point plan of Mr Diess is causing unease” among workers already disturbed by the fallout from the emissions crisis, said Osterloh. “At the moment there are more questions than answers. That is bad.”

Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Mark Potter