Volkswagen’s Slovak unit pledges to boost efficiency

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Volkswagen’s Slovak unit vowed on Wednesday to boost efficiency by 30 percent by 2020 to get ahead of the company-wide savings drive as it looks forward to raise its competitiveness within the group.

The country’s biggest auto plant and largest private sector employer has experienced investment of 2.8 billion euros ($3.16 billion) since 2010 however its focus on SUVs leaves it endangered to an EU drive to cut CO2 emissions and VW’s aim to release nearly 70 new electric models by 2028.

Bratislava makes electric versions of the Volkswagen up!, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo but no strategies have yet been made for models constructed on VW’s electric vehicle platform.

The plant, which constructed 408,208 cars in 2018 mainly for the Chinese, U.S. and German markets, is in the running to produce some new models, VW Slovak Chief Executive Oliver Grunberg informed a news conference.

“To put Slovakia on the forefront of the company’s factories, we aim to boost efficiency by 30 percent already in 2019-2020, five years prior to the company-wide target,” he stated.

The plans include decreasing of its 14,800 staff by 3,000 this year and slower wage increase.

“We need (unions) to contribute to raising VW’s competitiveness, perhaps not take two steps ahead but half a step instead,” Grunberg stated. “We expect slower wage growth.”

Employees at the factory went on strike two years ago over pay. VW Slovakia agreed then to hike wages by 4.7 percent from June 2017, followed by a 4.7 percent increase in January 2018 and 4.1 percent from last November.

“We will prefer guarantees of job stability over wage growth in the ongoing round of collective bargaining,” VW union chief Zoroslav Smolinsky informed Reuters on Wednesday.

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