FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group's powerful labor representatives urged lawmakers not to use the carmaker as a political football ahead of national elections next month and risk threatening jobs in Germany.
The appeal came after the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) party called for Lower Saxony to sell its $9 billion Volkswagen stake to remove any German state influence and let the carmaker focus on improving its lackluster profitability.
"Volkswagen is being criticized, in parts justifiably so, but we need to be rational, because it is about the future of thousands of jobs. Workers are worried and politicians should take this seriously," the carmaker's powerful labor leader Bernd Osterloh said in a statement on Thursday.
Labor leaders said 120,000 VW workers were being given a petition to sign, urging Berlin politicians not to "abuse" the carmaker during the parliamentary election campaign.
Germany's leading carmakers and its transport authority face allegations about hiding the true levels of vehicle pollution, fueling a perception that the auto industry and government enjoy an unduly close relationship.
VW has been struggling to bounce back from its emissions-cheating admissions that have cost the company as much as $25 billion.