Volkswagen pays millions to its works councils. Only the works council chairman Bernd Osterloh received over 3 million euros in the five years from 2011 to 2016. The public prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig has now filed charges against four VW managers for infidelity or serious infidelity. In the period under review, these four human resources managers are expected to have directed more than five million euros in excess salaries and bonuses to the works councils for payment.
However, the accused is not VW. The four members of the board of directors, or Ex-members of the board of directors, are accused of having caused VW with their determination of works council salaries a damage of 5 million euros. The fours are Horst Neumann (chief human resources officer of the entire group from 2005 to the end of 2015), his successor Karlheinz Blessing (2016 to 2018), and Jochen Schumm (Chief Human Resources Officer of the VW 2008 to 2011 core brand) and his successor Martin Rosik.
A total of 29 individual acts are accused by law enforcement officers of the four men for the period between 2011 and 2016. The prosecutors see the respective stipulations of the salaries and bonus payments of the members of the works council as acts. The office of the works Council is, according to the law on volunteering. Works councils should not have any advantages or disadvantages in the performance of their duties. This also applies to payment. If the works councils do not pursue their original work, they are exempted – in the large groups this is the rule – they should receive a salary that corresponds to their qualifications and the internal career of a comparable employee.
The accused personnel managers should have deliberately used an incorrect reference group in determining the salaries of VW works councils. For example, the basic salary of VW General Works Council chairman Bernd Osterloh had risen to 200,000 euros within a few years. According to the Handelsblatt, however, the prosecution sees the greatest suspicions as regards bonus payments. Here, the four seem to have been very generous. Osterloh itself had already confirmed two years ago that his highest annual salary amounted to about 750.000 Euro.
The four defendants have rejected all allegations and obviously also pointed out that they had followed the proposals of the so-called “Commission on works council remuneration” when deciding on the respective grouping and raising of salaries. The public prosecutor’s office points out that the four members of this commission were themselves.
The largest profit-makers are said to have been five works councils, first of all the works council chairman Osterloh. It alone is expected to have received 3.125 million euros in the five years under study. Ironically, he was also part of the compensation Commission, which decided on his salary. Also against him is determined for aid for infidelity. However, he is not co-accused, since his case was separated from the main proceedings against the four managers. It goes without saying that Osterloh has always rejected the accusations of infidelity. The trained office clerk sees it as perfectly justified that he has become a millionaire through his works council work.
The group sees this as well. VW, after the high salary payments in 2017 had become public, had also engaged internally with the allegations. In the meantime, however, the case has been closed. In May of this year, the group concluded a settlement with 15 works councils before the Arbeitsgericht Braunschweig. The basis was for VW-financed arbitration opinions of two former judges of the Federal Labour Court, Klaus Bepler and Burghard Kreft. Although these two had occasionally found too high payments, especially for Osterloh. But by and large, everything was going right. At the end of 2017, the works council salaries, which had been cut by media impact, are now essentially the old ones.
Meanwhile, the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office is investigating a similar case against five managers of the VW premium brand Porsche. There, the long-standing works council chairman Uwe Hück had received disproportionately high remuneration, up to 500,000 euros per year.
So anyone who believed that the corruption of the UAW car Workers ' Union in the US is extraordinary, is now better taught. The works councils and trade union officials in Germany, in particular the IG Metall, are in no way inferior to their American counterparts.
While in the United States, the training centres of the United Auto Workers (UAW), which are financed by the car drivers, serve as a mechanism for the payments of corruption, in Germany this is officially the so-called “codetermination"enshrined by law.
Participation as part of the” social partnership " regulates, among other things, that the employees – i.e. trade unions – send their representatives to the supervisory boards. There they sit together with the company and shareholder representatives and work out the attacks on the workforce in order to defend the group’s international “competitiveness”. For this they are paid princely. Osterloh, for example, receives an additional 200,000 euros per year in addition to his generous salary for his membership of the VW supervisory board’s executive committee.
It is really worthwhile for trade unionists, however, if they have a position on the board of directors. This is because a significant part of the co-determination rules applies to board members or directors of Labour. The union has the last word in its name. They therefore come almost exclusively from their own trade union ranks, sometimes even long-term works council chairmen are rewarded with the post of Labour director or personnel board. In the case of large corporations, for a union official, this means that with a high five - to six-figure income from the better earner in the Union, he will rise to the millionaire.
These former union officials are responsible for the remuneration of works councils. This unappetitive System, which is the equivalent of a self-service shop for union officials who have earned it, became known to a larger public for the first time in 2005. At that time it came to light that VW Chief Human Resources Officer Peter Hartz, former IGM official and Labor director of Dillinger Hütte and Saarstahl, had kept his works council happy not only with a lot of money, but also with air travel, luxury hotels and Noble prostitutes. Hartz, who had also worked out the draconian labour market laws named after him, had to take his hat because of this Sex and corruption affair.
The now accused VW managers all enjoyed the unrestricted support of IG Metall. Horst Neumann had worked in the Economic Department of IG Metall until 1994. He was also a member of several supervisory boards. In 2005 he was succeeded by Peter Hartz VW-head of personnel. In 2015, when Neumann retired, the supervisory board approved Neumann with the votes of IGM and SPD officials, who have the majority in the VW supervisory board, a pension provision in the amount of 23 million euros.
His successor Blessing had started his professional career on the board of IG Metall as head of the Office of the then chairman Franz Steinkühler. In the SPD, under the chairmanship of Björn Engholm, he was short-time federal director. Blessing is a close friend of Ex-IGM chief Berthold Huber, who headed the VW supervisory board from April to October 2015, precisely at the time when all important personnel decisions were made after the diesel exhaust scandal.
VW-Marken-Chief Human Resources Officer Schumm had already started his training as an industrial clerk at Volkswagen in Hannover in 1964. He remained within the group, in which he was responsible for human resources at the VW brand in Wolfsburg from 1997 and for the whole of Germany from 2008. In the summer of 2012 Schumm moved to the VW subsidiary MAN and retired in 2015.
In 2003, his successor, Martin Rosik, took over the management of Audi’s personnel at the Neckarsulm site. He came as Labor director of Thyssen-Krupp elevators. In 2010, he then moved to the VW Group parent company in Wolfsburg.
All four are or were income millionaires of IG-metals graces. Personal corruption and greed play an important role in IG Metall as in all trade unions. The fact that the trade union officials that have come to money are at a table with the heavy hedge fund managers, company representatives and bankers partly explains the pretentious appearance of the trade union officials. IGM chief Huber even celebrated his 60th birthday at the invitation of Angela Merkel together with the leaders from politics and business in the chancellery.
However, the starting point for corruption and greed among trade union officials, the betrayal and sales of the workforce is the political programme of the trade unions. Their concept of social partnership is based on a common interest of employees with the companies in which they work. When the economy was still largely National, the trade union officials had lived well with the removal of some of the workers from the groups and factories; if necessary and under the pressure of the workers, also with strikes and protests.
But with globalization, this time is inevitable. Production can be relocated worldwide. Instead of responding with international Organisation and defence, the trade unions defend capitalism, the nation state and private ownership of the means of production. They have turned from reformist organizations into the extended arms of the board of directors. Nowhere is this as clear as at VW. While the attacks on the employees are being worked out on the joint supervisory boards and the IG Metall executive boards, the armies of works councils and shop stewards ensure their enforcement within the company and the suppression of any Opposition.
The trade unions are not workers ' organisations, but company organisations. Who says these rotten organisations should or could be reformed in the interests of the workers, is either a brazen liar or a hopelessly naive fool. There is a need for new independent campaigning organisations of Workers, United from the factories and works across all borders and sectors, to put an end to capitalism and to its enrichment of a few at the expense of the majority.