BERLIN (Reuters) -- Volkswagen is considering a reduction in temporary workers as part of efforts to offset the cost of the emissions scandal, the automaker's works council said.
VW said in a statement that the outlook for its sales and employment levels were unpredictable after the company reported on Friday lower September deliveries for its core autos division and the 12-brand group.
"If employment declines temporarily, shortened working hours will be a reasonable option," VW said, adding that its executive board was doing everything it could to secure jobs.
A works council spokesman said it would support efforts to secure temporary jobs but was aware that the company's board was discussing "different scenarios." The works council is a grouping of labor representatives within VW.
Citing unnamed government sources, the Bild newspaper reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel's office is looking into whether 6,000 Volkswagen temporary workers could be moved on to the government's "Kurzarbeit" short-time work program.
The scheme allows companies to preserve jobs by reducing employees' hours when plant usage is low, with the government compensating workers for part of their lost wages.
The Federal Labor Office has ruled out the idea, already floated by Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, of including temporary workers in the plan, from which they would normally be excluded. But Berlin wants to be prepared for cost cuts at Volkswagen.
A government spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Reeling from the scandal over its rigging of diesel emissions, Volkswagen has said it will cut investment plans at core VW brand biggest by 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year.
Some analysts have said the scandal could cost Volkswagen as much as 35 billion euros ($40 billion) to cover vehicle refits, regulatory fines and lawsuits.
Works council head Bernd Osterloh had said earlier this month it was not yet clear whether the emissions scandal would affect jobs over the medium to longer term. "At this point, there are no consequences for jobs, neither for core workers nor for temporary staff."