Volkswagen ends ‘Kurzarbeit’ at German factories

German car giant Volkswagen said Tuesday its German factories would end in July a shorter hours scheme used to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as production ramps back up.

Volkswagen ends 'Kurzarbeit' at German factories
Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Zwickau, Saxony in May. Photo: DPA

After around 80,000 workers' hours were slashed from March, a remaining cohort of around 20,000 at VW's own-brand passenger cars, utility vehicles and components works will also return to normal schedules at sites across Europe's top economy, the sprawling 12-brand group said in a statement.

READ ALSO: German firms apply for Kurzarbeit for nearly 12 million workers during coronavirus pandemic

At present, production levels in the German factories stand at between 75 and 95 percent of pre-coronavirus levels, VW said.

But with the outlook for the car industry uncertain as businesses and consumers emerge from months of infection-control lockdown, “we'll continue to manage production very precisely according to how markets develop and customer demand,” VW brand production and logistics chief Andreas Tostmann said.

Official data released earlier this month showed that new car registrations on German roads alone fell 16.1 percent year-on-year between January and May, to 2.5 million.

Sales were down almost 50 percent on May 2019 last month, after a more than 60-percent drop in April and almost 40 in March.

A similar picture has been seen across Europe and further afield, after the pandemic hit an already shrinking global car market.

Looking to other major carmakers' German operations, BMW told AFP that workers were still on shorter hours “here and there” in June, for a total around 4,000 compared with over 30,000 in April and May.

READ ALSO: German carmakers beat global sales slump amid job cut woes

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Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium

At least two people were hospitalised Tuesday after a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 when his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium
The activist lands on the turf of the Allianz Arena. credit: dpa | Christian Charisius

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick-off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands, where the casualties happened.

The activist was arrested soon after landing.

A Munich police spokesman told AFP that at least two people suffered head injuries and “both had to be taken to hospital, we don’t know yet how serious the injuries are”.

The police spokesman said the activist appears to have escaped injury, but “we are considering various criminal charges. Munich police has zero understanding for political actions that put lives at risk”.

UEFA also slammed the botched stunt.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

The parachutist above the stadium. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA.

Greenpeace said they regretted any harm caused.

“This protest was never intended to disrupt the game or hurt people,” read a Twitter post on Greenpeace’s official German account.

“We hope that everyone is OK and that no one was seriously injured. Greenpeace actions are always peaceful and non-violent.”

“Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.”

READ MORE: Climate activists rage as Germany opts for drawn-out coal exit