Entries in Volkswagen (2)


Volkswagen Gives Workers a Break from BlackBerry Email

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WOLFSBURG, Germany) -- When the BlackBerry appeared, people said the best thing about it was that you could take the office with you wherever you went -- and the worst thing about it was that you had to take the office with you wherever you went.

Now Volkswagen AG, giving in to union demands in Germany to protect workers from burnout, has agreed to stop routing emails to employees' BlackBerry devices 30 minutes after their shifts end, and to not turn them back on until 30 minutes before the next day's shift begins. Their handhelds will still be usable as cellphones.

According to the German newspaper Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, the policy will affect 1,154 employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement. It's not a large group -- VW says it has more than 190,000 employees in Germany -- but it's a start.

"The new possibilities of communications also present dangers," said Heinz-Joachim Thust of the Volkswagen workers council, in a comment to the paper translated by ABC News. Bosses routinely expect employees to be reachable at off hours, Thust said, and burnout has been a major issue in Germany, especially after the September resignation of Ralf Rangnick, a well-known soccer coach who said he was exhausted by his work.

VW, says the BBC, is following a trend in Europe. The makers of Persil washing powder in the U.K. declared an email "amnesty" for their workers between Christmas and New Year's. Atos, a French technology giant, has announced it will ban internal email starting in 2014 so that workers have more time for other things.

The VW email stoppage does not affect managers or non-union employees, and the union said such policies may not be practical for other companies, particularly small businesses. But when those 1,154 workers are off-duty, they'll be more off-duty than they were.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kate Middleton's Old Volkswagen Draws $78,000 Bidder

David Cheskin - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- It's not an official state car but, west of London, a 10-year-old Volkswagen Golf has gotten attention fit for a royal.

Sonny Brazil, 21, received the used Golf in 2009 from his father, but had no clue about the history behind his new wheels. It turned out, he later found, that it was once owned by a Miss Catherine Middleton.

"I was a bit surprised at the time," Brazil said. "And even more surprised when I found out they were getting married."

The Golf was registered in November 2001 and its documents show that the first owner was the Duchess of Cambridge. Part-exchanged between Brazil's father and Kate's brother, James, in 2009, Brazil took the wheel and noticed Middleton's name on its bills and log books.

He put the Golf up for auction on eBay a few weeks ago, and it has garnered some unexpected international interest. "I get so many emails from Canada, U.S., Germany, Norway," Brazil told ABC News.

Despite getting a highest bid this weekend of about $78,000, he has closed the online auction and says he is in no hurry to sell.

"It was more of a test to see what the car would make and how many people would be interested," he said. "Someone actually emailed me from America saying I'd be ... [crazy] to sell the car because it'll only increase in value."

Also found in the back seat was a pair of silver cufflinks. Brazil is not sure whose they are, but is working on getting them returned to the Middletons.

Another car with a regal past will be put up on the auction block in the United States this weekend. The 1939 Lincoln convertible that was used for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's first Canadian tour is expected to go for more than $350,000 at an auction in Plymouth, Mich.

As for Brazil's price tag, he's not revealing what exactly he'd be willing to take to part with the Golf. Although he has since upgraded and now drives a BMW convertible, Brazil says, he doesn't mind holding on to a little piece of royal history for a bit longer.

"It's a one in a million chance, like a lottery ticket," he said. "I'm just a very lucky young man."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio