The same applies to working arrangements and machine running times, another vital area of German industry's productivity offensive. Germany is not a country of drastic and rapid changes. But it would be wrong for outsiders to misjudge apparently limited compromises as a sign that improvements are not occurring. There is now evidence everywhere that corporate Germany - management and unions - is well aware of its cost problems and trying to do something about it.
Ironically, despite all the publicity, VW's four-day week deal is probably the least satisfactory from a cost-saving point of view. Under political pressure - its biggest shareholder is the state of Lower Saxony - the company has largely deferred its problems. It says it has 20,000 too many workers regardless of whether the market recovers. This will continue to be a burden on a company desperate to reduce costs.Reuse content