Volkswagen Group Temporarily Shuts Down Europe Plants

Gail Alcabaza

As the Covid-19 pandemic gets worse every day, German-based car company Volkswagen has decided to gradually suspend production at its European plants.

As rapid spread of the virus resulted in a decline for the demand of vehicles, risks in connection with suppliers’ supply chains are also increasing. This is due to the significantly accelerated rate of infection by coronavirus and the resulting measures taken by the authorities.

Initially, the factories are therefore expected to remain closed for two weeks, but may extend depending on what happens in the next few weeks.

For the affected German sites, the measures are to apply from the end of the late shift on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

VW factory

“The spread of coronavirus in Europe is increasingly having an adverse impact on the demand situation. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to supply our plants with outsourced parts,” Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operation Officer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, said.

“For this reason, we have decided to run production down in a coordinated way from the end of the late shift on Thursday. We are convinced that this will also be in the interests of our employees who are becoming increasingly concerned about the spread of corona.”

Gunnar Kilian, HR Board Member of the Volkswagen Group also stated: “We have also supplemented our comprehensive health protection measures with a number of other measures. We understand the concerns of our employees. Since the beginning of the corona epidemic in China, we have consistently operated on the basis of the principle that health is our top priority. Our employees can rely on that.”

To ensure the protection of their employees, Volkswagen is implementing further measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Starting this week, the company canteens, self-service shops, cafeterias, bistros, restaurants and catering services will be closed. As a general practice, all meetings will be held by Skype or video, and all major events and gatherings have already been canceled.

VW factory

Employees travelling or returning to Germany from other countries after March 14 are forbidden from entering the plant sites and other facilities of Volkswagen AG during the incubation period of 14 weekdays.

Works Council Chairman Bernd Osterloh welcomed the suspension of production: “At times when people can no longer meet on playgrounds or for concerts, go to church or visit restaurants in the evening and are no longer buying cars, and Volkswagen has supply problems, production cannot simply continue as if nothing had happened. For our colleagues in production, there are is therefore no alternative to the controlled suspension of production. All the points which remain open will be clarified between the company and the Works Council.”

In order to keep transmission of the virus as low as possible, person to person contact is highly discouraged. Managers and employees of the company are advised review the possibilities of working remotely or working from home.

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