German union steps up efforts to recruit Tesla workers with office near Berlin plant

BERLIN – IG Metall, the dominant metalworkers union in Germany, wants to represent as many employees as possible at Tesla’s new plant near Berlin.

The union has opened an office “very close” to the Gruenheide plant, said Birgit Dietze, its district manager for Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony.

In addition to supporting the election of a works council, the union will be available to answer questions on topics such as pay, working hours and employment contracts, Dietze told the News Agency. German (DPA).

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has had a difficult relationship with unions in the past and was ordered in March last year to delete a 2018 tweet threatening to deprive U.S. employees of their options to buy. shares if they formed a union.

IG Metall said job seekers told them the automaker was offering wages 20% lower than the wages collectively negotiated by German automakers. Tesla is also shaking up conventional German contracts by offering packages with stock options and bonuses rather than a predetermined vacation pay.

Musk has made known his irritation with German laws and processes, saying in a letter to authorities in April that the country’s complex planning requirements conflicted with the urgency needed to tackle climate change. The automaker has had to repeatedly postpone the planned opening of the plant due to environmental objections and red tape.

In the future, around 12,000 employees are expected to build up to 500,000 electric cars per year in Gruenheide, with production to start early this year.

The union understands that 1,800 workers were hired over Christmas, DPA reported.

“We are assuming that the first stage of production will start with around 6,000 employees,” Dietze told the outlet.

She also stressed that other players in the automotive industry will be established around the plant.

“In terms of transformation, there is a need to take the employees with us,” Dietze said. “We are not the dinosaurs of the industrial age, but we are looking to the future in a progressive way. We are actively involved in matters of industrial policy making.”

If collective bargaining were ever to take place between the union and Tesla, a point of contention would already be foreseeable.

According to his findings, part of Tesla’s compensation should be obtained through stock options, Dietze told the DPA.

“As an option, in addition to a secure collective bargaining standard like that of the metal and electrical industry, we would have no objections,” said the unionist. “But what usually doesn’t work according to our members is that some parts of the compensation are so flexible that the employee doesn’t know exactly what is owed to them at the end of the month or the year?” “

Tesla recorded a record 308,600 global deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2021, with better-than-expected results pushing full-year deliveries to more than 936,000 vehicles.

The Tesla Model 3 is set to become the best-selling all-electric vehicle in Europe in 2021 amid strong growth in overall sales of battery-electric vehicles.


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