The Volkswagen group and works councils have signed a charter covering the hire of temporary workers that specifies pay, training, rights to move on to permanent work and other details.

Chairman Martin Winterkorn said: “The charter, through which we are ensuring appropriate employment and remuneration conditions for temporary workers, shows that we take this responsibility seriously.”

Group works council chairman Bernd Osterloh said: “Temporary workers are not second-class employees. The charter provides for the implementation of equal pay and equal treatment as well as for a maximum duration of deployment.”

VW, which argues that “the moderate use of temporary work is a necessary flexibility tool” has agreed that a proportion of 5% temporary employees “is a guideline” and said equal pay would be implemented “in a staged plan”.

It will offer training and promised to use temporary work “to compensate for fluctuations in economic conditions and to master special challenges calling for a temporary increase in personnel”.