Hallway Radio: Frosty Meetings at Volkswagen freeze decision-making

Osterloh, Müller

Osterloh, Müller

On Monday, Volkswagen’s Supervisory Board convened an emergency meeting to work off the overload of bad news. The Hallway Radio characterized the atmosphere as “icy” and erratic: “Meeting often breaks into small groups, nobody trusts nobody,” a Hallway Radio reporter texted, using – nobody trusts nobody – the Snowden-approved unbreakable Signal app.

The frosty atmosphere went at the expense of productivity, or so it seems. No announcements regarding the scandal and its consequences were made.

It was announced that Henrik Henriksson will replace Per Hallberg as CEO of truck and bus maker Scania AB. Henriksson will also be member of the Volkswagen Truck & Bus GmbH, the holding company for all heavy and medium duty business by Volkswagen, Scania, and MAN. Henriksson won’t have it easy, the Hallway Radio predicts. “The Swedes at Scania are proud people,” a voice on the radio says. “They defend their independence, and they don’t want to work with former arch enemy MAN. Actually, , old habits die hard, they very much want to work against MAN.”

It also was announced that management and labor will tackle the problems with newfound unity. This after Volkswagen’s works council chief Bernd Osterloh had loudly complained that management wants to solve its financial problems on the backs of the toiling masses. For a few days, we were back at the old antagonism between unions and management, and we had the beginnings of an open and constructive debate. That debate turned to a crescendo in yesterday’s meeting of the Supervisory Board, where Vice-Chairman Osterloh became very loud, the Hallway Radio says. Then, sudden harmony was announced. Sueddeutsche Zeitung doesn’t like it, saying that Volkswagen is heading back to the old pre-crisis culture where “problems were swiped under the rug, and where illegal exhaust-manipulations could not be brought to light.”

It was also announced that Volkswagen’s head of Corporate and Business Communications, Andreas Lampersbach, is out, allegedly “by amicable agreement.” The Hallway Radio heard that he is being blamed for some of the bad press VW received. Blaming the spokesfolk for one’s sins is a common occurrence in a corporate crisis. The Hallway Radio says that “more managers will follow Lampersbach on his way out.”

It comes to pass that Volkswagen just received its own pastor, former engineer Dirk Wagner. In the good old days, seven padres tended to the souls of Volkswagen’s workforce, in the more recent bad old days, there were none. Now, managers at least won’t meet the firing squad without spiritual guidance.

Standard disclaimer: Hallway radio reports reflect the current buzz of Volkswagen’s internal rumor mill, and as such the reports are not always correct. No responsibility is taken for the correctness of this information. However, the radio has a very high batting average, so far, at least.