The line between works council and management is traditionally narrow at VW. Too tight? Prosecutors saw unjustifiably high compensation and charged hiring managers. The criminal case has yet to wait.
Braunschweig / Wolfsburg (dpa) – Infidelity proceedings against three former and one current VW Group personnel manager must be postponed in the Braunschweig regional court.
The criminal process originally planned as of November 19 for the alleged excessive remuneration of works councils could only begin at a later time due to the risk of contagion and the stricter contact restrictions in the Corona crisis, said Wednesday the court.
This was decided by the competent court and those involved in the process were informed. Several participants would have to travel from afar and spend the night in Braunschweig, and some people belonged to the risk group. “In this case, health protection prevails.” An alternative date has not yet been set, but the start should continue until the new year.
The Brunswick judges want to check whether managers have approved excessive salaries for high-level works councils for years. According to the indictment, VW suffered damages of more than five million euros as a result. At least indirectly, there is also the suspicion that they wanted to ensure the goodwill of the employees.
However, the planned process also touches on more fundamental questions, such as the question of whether there are binding guidelines for classifying the salaries of senior employee representatives. The prosecutor argues that the four personnel managers had five powerful works councils, including the group’s works council head, Bernd Osterloh, who paid excessive salaries and bonuses between May 2011 and May 2016. Defense attorneys denied this allegation .
There are also many works council members in senior management positions at Volkswagen. Regarding the definition of the allegedly excessive salary, the legal situation is complicated and equally controversial. The prosecution complains of “illegal collective bargaining and payment.” But even some voices critical of the group point out that, above all, a reform of the 1972 Works Constitution Law is urgently needed to develop reliable standards.
The central problem: at what level and how much can be earned has not yet been clearly regulated. Officially, when they are released from work, the works councils receive a salary for their “voluntary work” which, according to the law, must correspond to the “salary of comparable employees with normal professional development in the company”. As a hypothetical consideration, it is based on the salary a top company council would be entitled to after many years if it performed equally responsible management duties today. However, there are no reliable comparison brokers, individual decisions are required.