VW, Kia, Slovakia to cut staff

By Graeme Roberts | 29 January 2019

Volkswagen's Slovakia unit, the country's biggest car plant and largest private sector employer, plans to reduce staff this year for the first time since the 2009 global downturn as part of an efficiency drive, a media report said.

The business will return about 500 workers it had borrowed from Audi's Hungarian unit in 2016, reduce the number of contractors and will not extend expiring fixed-term contracts, it told Reuters in a statement on Monday.

VW employs around 14,000 people in Slovakia but did not say what that figure would fall to.

The Slovak business will also reduce the number of production shifts that make higher-end SUVs as well as cheaper small family cars including the E-up, the only electric car currently made in Slovakia.

There are no plans to place production of new electric vehicles at the Bratislava factory at the moment, it added.

There are no cuts in overall output projections, as reduced hours will be offset by an increase in the technical capacity of production lines, it said.

VW told Reuters the move was part of a drive to increase efficiencies by 30% by 2025, as it strives to fund a costly shift to electric and self-driving vehicles following a 2015 scandal over rigged emissions tests of diesel engines.

Reuters also said Kia would reduce staff this year, the first time since launching in the country in 2006.

It said on Monday it would cut 27 staff as of February due to a 35% slump in demand for diesel engines made at its factory outside Zilina, northern Slovakia.

Its car production this year is expected to match last year's 333,000 vehicles.