FRANKFURT (AFP) - - Time is running out and tension is growing: the takeover of Volkswagen by Porsche has sparked union anger and possibly raised tempers within both companies.
German media reports last week spoke of a possible departure of Porsche boss Wendelin Wiedeking, who could be sacrificed by dealmaker Ferdinand Piech to appease unions.
Piech, a co-owner of Porsche and president of the VW supervisory board, was said to be highly irritated by tense relations between Wiedeking, one of the best-paid German bosses, and unions who play a crucial role at VW.
German industrial tradition that gives unions an oversight capacity in strategic decisions is firmly anchored in Volkswagen, the biggest European car maker.
That has been the case since the end of World War II when unions were first associated with the running of a group that was once a jewel of the former Nazi regime.
The voting of a so-called VW Law in 1960, when the maker of the Beetle and Golf was privatised, gave unions more power than in any other German company.
But Wiedeking, head of what could be VW's new owner, does not see things that way.
As soon as Porsche began increasing its stake in VW, he dropped a bomb by saying there would be no "sacred cows" at the much bigger car company.
Since then Wiedeking has become embroiled in a dispute with IG Metall, which represents 90 percent of VW workers.
One of the main reasons concerns the level of staff representation in the holding company that would control both car makers.
Porsche sees it at parity for each company, even though VW employs more than 20 times as many workers.
Judicial proceedings over the dispute are ongoing, while mediation between the two sides set for September 10 has already failed. IG Metall said in late August it would not take part.
Union representatives, meanwhile, have had harsh words for Porsche and its boss.
VW works committee boss Bernd Osterloh has slammed the "arrogance of an absolute monarch," and called Wiedeking a "dilettante."
But it is not just a matter of a face-off between Wiedeking and VW staff that would be arbitrated by Piech in his dual role of co-owner of one and supervisory board president of the other.
The IG Metall union chapter at Porsche, for example, is in favour of the VW takeover.
Its head, a former boxer named Uwe Hueck, has repeatedly expressed support for the move, and says Osterloh is only trying to maintain his power.
In addition, a cousin of Piech, who represents the other branch of the Porsche family, Wolfgang Porsche, is reportedly a strong supporter of Wiedeking.
Nothing has indicated Wolfgang Porsche is ready to dump a boss who has turned the maker of the 911 sports car into the most profitable auto maker in the world.
Finally, a new version of the VW Law that was drawn up after the original text was rejected by the European Court of Justice last year, goes before parliament soon for what could be a spirited debate.
Berlin, under pressure from unions, maintained a veto held by VW's public shareholder, the state of Lower Saxony, which owns 20 percent of the company, which could provoke fresh conflict with the European Commission.
A meeting of the VW supervisory board is scheduled for September 12, with a discussion of the law likely to be on the agenda.
IG Metall has called for workers to demonstrate in front of the company's headquarters that day.
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