October 17, 2016 / 10:07 PM / 2 years ago

VW labor boss demands commitment to battery production: Sueddeutsche

A VW sign is seen outside a Volkswagen dealership in London, Britain, November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) should commit to investing in the development and production of batteries for electric cars, the carmaker’s works council chief Bernd Osterloh told a German newspaper.

“Volkswagen has to build its own competencies in the area of cells and batteries on the research and development side,” the paper quoted Osterloh as saying in an interview to be published in daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Tuesday.

“That is important for the sites in Germany. We need a commitment to the production of batteries in exchange for job cuts,” he added.

Volkswagen is under pressure to make cuts at high-cost operations in Germany to fund a shift to electric vehicles following its emissions scandal.

The German group’s top executives have been in talks with works council leaders representing VW staff since June in an attempt to agree cost savings to fund this transformation.

Osterloh warned in the newspaper interview that talks could fail if Volkswagen did not agree to invest in battery production.

He also said he wanted management to commit to production of certain car models in Germany to ensure high utilization at Volkswagen’s plants in its home country and avert any closures.

Management is due to update workers on progress of the talks on Thursday.

Last week, Osterloh said that Volkswagen could cut up to 25,000 staff over the next decade as older workers retire to help the carmaker achieve cost-cuts needed to revive the VW brand.

Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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