Volkswagen is calling for workers at its Brussels plant to increase their working hours for no additional pay.

The request for the working week to be increased from 35 hours to 38 hours was made by Volkswagen during the second round of negotiations with unions at Volkswagen Brussels yesterday, a Volkswagen spokesperson confirmed to

Most of the Belgian automotive industry works a 38 hour week. Volkswagen Brussels is apparently an exception. The request was made as part of a package of ideas designed to allow 3,000 workers to continue working at the plant until 2009 when the Audi A1 would go into production. Some 5,400 people are currently employed at the plant.

Golf production is due to cease next year. The Golf accounts for by far the majority of production at the plant. Just 11,000 Polos have been produced at the plant this year, but this may be increased in the medium term as part of the planned restructuring programme. A figure of 60,000 cars has been mentioned, but Volkswagen will not confirm any figures saying this is still part of the negotiation.

Negotiations are also underway to continue producing some Golfs next year. Belgian prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, told Belgian television at the weekend that Golf production could continue until the spring of 2007.

The next round of negotiations will take place next week on Thursday 14th December.

Volkswagen is hoping that workers will return to work before then. They downed tools on 17th November and have not produced any cars since then. The strike was made official last Sunday (3rd December).

Although Volkswagen has confirmed that the Audi A1 will be built at the plant from 2009, unions are reportedly skeptical until the deal has been signed and the investment has been put into place.

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