Volkswagen's influential labour leader has let outgoing chief executive Bernd Pischetsrieder leave without a word of praise for the manager whose resignation he also backed.

"Since it's not a goodbye but rather a change in position, I will do without a congratulatory speech," VW works council boss Bernd Osterloh was quoted in a statement as saying prior to the CEO's farewell address to staff in Wolfsburg on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The news agency said Pischetsrieder is expected to serve out his contract - extended just seven months ago to April 2012 - by working outside the group in its name, for instance by helping to advance merger talks between MAN and Scania.

"Something remains from every (CEO's) term in office that helps bring the company a bit farther," Osterloh reportedly added, citing as an example from Pischetsrieder's tenure the Group Guidelines.

Osterloh expressed his wish that these directives governing how employees should interact with each other "continue to have lasting permanence", Reuters said.

According to the report, the VW works council chief on Thursday turned to Martin Winterkorn to express pleasure that the Audi boss attended the Wolfsburg staff meeting just before he becomes CEO in January.

"In the four and a half years at Audi, you have lent this brand a special radiance," Osterloh reportedly said, adding he wished Winterkorn "brings these positives to the entire group and in particular the Volkswagen brand".

Reuters said the Audi boss, an engineer who shares the same passion for technology as his protege Piech, is popular with labour, which hopes he can grow Volkswagen out of its problems rather than trimming it down to a healthy size, as Pischetsrieder attempted.

The report added that Winterkorn was head of development at Volkswagen before his promotion to Audi in 2002 and said that critics note he ran the project to create the disastrous Phaeton luxury saloon and over-engineered its main model, the Golf, to the point that it takes far longer to build than rival compacts. VW reportedly posts a loss with every sale.

Pischetsrieder meanwhile has helped push shares to multi-year highs thanks to his commitment to raise pretax profit to EUR4bn (GBP2.7bn) over the course of four years in a restructuring programme that involved cutting up to 20,000 jobs in Germany, which restructuring whiz Wolfgang Bernhard was executing.
He also won praise from investors for moving aggressively to stem corruption within Volkswagen, instituting ombudsmen, for example, after allegations of bribery, sex trips and the misuse of company funds cost the job of Piech's ally and VW personnel director Peter Hartz and Osterloh's predecessor Klaus Volkert, Reuters added.

The outgoing VW chief executive reportedly said the 9.9% rise in group sales to more than 5.2m vehicles deliveries to the end of November showed the company was back on track for growth.

"I thank you for the trust you placed in me during my time," he told staff, according to Reuters.

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