Stuttgart. Günther Oettinger, the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg state, today attended the Works Meeting of
Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG at its main plant in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, taking up an invitation extended several months ago by Uwe Hück, Chairman of Porsche’s Group Works Council. In his address to the 1,600 employees at the meeting, Oettinger highlighted the special role played by the sports car manufacturer in Baden-Württemberg’s development as an economic center. “The fact that Porsche has recovered from its crisis in the 1990s to become the most profitable auto manufacturer in the world not only demonstrates the ability of its management and workforce, but also serves as evidence of the excellent conditions for companies in Baden-Württemberg,” said Oettinger. He added that Porsche was one of the key drivers behind the promotion of Baden-Württemberg, as the Company’s success story is inextricably linked to the federal state’s profile around the world.
As Oettinger noted, one of the reasons the Company enjoys such a strong reputation is the fact that it has never focused exclusively on profit maximization, but rather also on its commitment to social responsibility. Oettinger: “Since the crisis, Porsche has more than doubled the size of its workforce, invested billions of euros in its sites and products, successfully participated in the expansion of Eastern Germany with the opening of a plant in Leipzig, and helped to ensure not only its own future, but also that of a major German corporation, with its investment in Volkswagen. Very few companies in this country can boast such an impressive record of success.”
With this in mind, Oettinger said that it was unreasonable for Porsche to be described as a “locust” and its behavior likened to that of hedge funds. “Comparisons of this nature are not only unfair, they are plain stupid,” said Oettinger, adding that a large number of problems can only be solved by close cooperation between those responsible at a political level and the business world. “As Minister President, therefore, I am delighted to be able to call upon reliable partners such as Porsche, whose high tax payments help to make the social, cultural and scientific achievements of our state possible in the first place.”
The Chairman of the Group Works Council, Uwe Hück, also stressed the particular social responsibility of companies and entrepreneurs. He added that the success of Germany as an economic location was due in part to employee involvement in operational decisions: “Codetermination within companies and supervisory boards and collective bargaining are decisive factors in the success of German companies and, by association, the success of our country as an economic center,” Hück explained. “Codetermination is the only way to ensure a strong economy with fair wages and salaries. It is a prerequisite for social balance in our country.” He explained that this was the reason for the decision by the Executive Board and the Works Council to carry on this policy of codetermination within the new holding company under European law.
At the same time, however, Hück noted that a company can only exercise social responsibility if it operates successfully and profitably. As an example, he referred to the site guarantee that was agreed between Porsche’s Executive Board and Works Council in 2005, under which jobs were guaranteed until 2010 in exchange for a significant increase in workforce productivity. This included an agreement that Porsche would appoint 100 trainees a year, awarding them a permanent contract after the successful completion of their apprenticeship. 40% of the trainees appointed must be secondary school students. With this in mind, Hück called upon the Minister President to initiate an education campaign aimed at offering young people from disadvantaged social backgrounds a future in Baden-Württemberg. “It is the responsibility of the state to increase investment in order to allow a high quality of education and training,” Hück said.
Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, CEO of Porsche AG, stressed that the steadily growing success of the sports car manufacturer was primarily due to its highly motivated employees. “I am proud of this team. I am proud to be a part of this Company,” he said, adding that it was only fair that employees should be able to participate in the Company’s success and play a part in determining the path of the newly formed Porsche Automobil Holding SE. “In maintaining our commitment to codetermination, we have ensured that the rights and interests of Porsche’s employees, who were ultimately responsible for generating the necessary funds for our investment in Volkswagen, will continue to be represented in the new holding company,” Wiedeking said.
Wiedeking added that Porsche employees will continue to enjoy the same rights even if the holding company takes control of a second subgroup in future. “Discussions between our Works Council and the Works Council of the other subgroup will always take place on an even footing. Nothing will change this fact,” stressed the CEO. At the same time, he pointed out that no resolutions had yet been passed on a further increase in the Company’s stake in Volkswagen, which currently amounts to just under 31 percent. “We are not under any time pressure,” commented Wiedeking.
After the official part of the Works Meeting, the Minister President of Baden-Württemberg took his leave of the Porsche employees. His appearance was the latest in a long line of visits to Zuffenhausen by prominent politicians in recent years. Most recently, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder gave a speech to the Works Meeting of the sports car manufacturer in June 2005.
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