German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has attended his first Volkswagen works meeting. At the parent plant in Wolfsburg, he spent several hours in intensive discussions with the workforce, the Works Council and members of the Board of Management. In and around hall 11 more than 10,000 employees welcomed the high-ranking politician in the heart of the factory on Thursday. The visit included a 45-minute question and answer session between Volkswagen staff and Germany’s head of government at which the Chancellor answered employees’ questions directly.
Before the works meeting got underway, Scholz was taken on a tour of the Golf production. This year, the all-electric ID.3 will be added to the portfolio of vehicles produced at corporate headquarters. The German Chancellor also used his visit as an opportunity to gain an insight into Volkswagen’s forward-looking vocational training. The last time Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant welcomed such a high-ranking politician was around 15 years ago in 2008, when Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel stood in front of the workforce.
Speaking at the works meeting, the Chancellor underlined: “Volkswagen epitomizes ‘Blueprint Germany’ more than hardly any other company in our country – for the combination of high technology made in Germany and very well trained skilled workers; for entrepreneurial vision and company cohesion; for good work and high wages. Here, employer and employees work as one. This is the best approach for successfully implementing changes together and shaping the journey towards climate-neutral mobility.”
Chairperson of the Group Works Council Daniela Cavallo: “We are very grateful to Olaf Scholz for his visit. It is a great sign of appreciation – for us as a company and for us as the workforce. Not only did our staff experience Germany’s most important politician as a guest and speaker, but they also had the opportunity to ask him many questions in person. This sends a clear signal that we will bring about a successful transition together. The Chancellor’s visit therefore also provides fresh impetus for us: we will continue to successfully manage the transformation of our industry, for a competitive industry in Germany and for secure, sustainable jobs.”
Chairman of the Board of Management Oliver Blume: “We are delighted to welcome the Chancellor in Wolfsburg. The Volkswagen Group is one of Europe’s biggest and most important industrial groups. We are actively shaping the transformation with the help of our employees. We invest in our iconic products and in cutting-edge technologies: electric mobility has priority – in products, platforms and technologies. At the same time, we are strengthening our business in the major growth regions, primarily China and North America. We are engaged in constructive dialogue with the federal government on all these matters. We value this dialogue very much because only together can we tackle the major issues of our time – making Europe competitive and creating a framework that promotes investment in a sustainable economy. This is how we will safeguard jobs and prosperity in both Germany and Europe.”
Before the works meeting got underway, Scholz, Cavallo and Blume did a tour of Hall 54, where the Golf is produced. Here the Chancellor talked to the specialist assembly line technicians. Minister President Stephan Weil, Chief Human Resources Officer Gunnar Kilian, CEO of the Volkswagen brand Thomas Schäfer, Board of Management member for Production Christian Vollmer and Plant Manager Rainer Fessel were also present.
Thomas Schäfer presented Volkswagen’s e-mobility initiative. Ten new electric models will be launched by 2026, including the new ID.3 with the latest-generation software, plug & charge capability and innovative driver assistance systems. Equipped with fully integrated assistance systems, the model will be produced in Wolfsburg this year, initially in partial production and then in full production from 2024. The Group will invest a total of around 460 million euros in the main plant by the beginning of 2025, getting the Wolfsburg location in shape for the future.
Background to works meetings at Volkswagen
The works meeting, followed by more than 10,000 workers and employees in and around Hall 11, was the first at Volkswagen’s parent plant in 2023. Four Volkswagen works meetings are held in Wolfsburg per year and are therefore an established part of the schedule for the year. A peculiarity is that the members of the Group and Brand Boards of Management always attend the meeting in Wolfsburg, the Group’s headquarters. For the works council, the works meetings are some of the most important events of the year. They serve as a communication platform for providing comprehensive information to the workforce first hand. The Works Council and Board of Management members report on the situation of the Group as well as on important plans and projects. The Board of Management receives direct feedback from the workforce, whose concerns are brought directly to the attention of the Group’s top management via the works meetings.