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Chaos at Tesla in Grünheide: There is stealing and dancing

The mood at the Tesla works meeting in Grünheide is tense. Fears of further job losses are spreading, while the factory management is angering people with some absurd measures.

Sales have plummeted dramatically, jobs are being cut and employees are being laid off in droves: the crisis of electromobility has Tesla’s only European plant outside Berlin in its grip. Nevertheless, in addition to worrying about the future of their – still – around 12,500 employees, the plant management and works council seem to have the time and leisure to occupy themselves extensively with themselves, allegedly stolen cups and techno music.

At the end of last month, plant manager André Thiering shared a video on social media about the opening of the “Giga Berlin rave cave (aka Hamster)”, a techno club on the factory premises – exclusively for employees. Thiering described the club on LinkedIn as “Giga Berlin’s newest ‘facility'” and added “Party on!”. In addition to some enthusiastic comments, quite a few users questioned whether this was the right time for such an announcement in light of the recent round of layoffs.

According to a report in the “Handelsblatt”, the job cuts were also the biggest concern of employees at a company meeting last week. According to a recording cited by the business newspaper, what is causing particular discontent is that many dismissals are apparently being issued in connection with warnings for reporting sick. According to the report, employees at the Tesla plant are required not to report sick by email, but also to make a corresponding entry in the IT system and notify their supervisor by phone. Many disputes surrounding sickness reports show that this sickness reporting process is “being abused”, said union secretary Jannes Bojert of IG Metall.

Tesla factory management accuses workforce of stealing coffee cups

According to the Handelsblatt, plant manager Thiering did not address these allegations or the concerns of the workforce at the meeting. He devoted his speaking time to a completely different topic: “Your expectation is that every day the cupboard is simply full of clean, new coffee cups,” Thiering is quoted as saying according to the recording. “And I just want to give you a number. We have bought 65,000 coffee cups here since production began. 65,000! Statistically, each of you already has five Ikea coffee cups at home.” The theft of the coffee cups is also the reason, Thiering continued, why there is no cutlery in the break rooms at Tesla. The workforce reacted to these allegations against them partly with clapping, partly with laughter, the newspaper report continued.

Internal conflicts in the works council

However, the works council, newly elected in the spring, is not only focused on the concerns of the workforce, but also spends a considerable amount of its energy on internal disputes. Works council chairwoman Michaela Schmitz used the meeting to rail against the union representatives on the committee in front of the assembled workforce: “Unfortunately, we have members on the works council who are more likely to be exploited by the union from outside.” These members tried to enforce “the interests of the union” and thus prevented the employee representatives from “achieving great results for you here again.” Schmitz pointed to the fact that significantly fewer jobs were to be cut in Grünheide than the ten percent of all jobs announced company-wide by Tesla boss Elon Musk as a success.

The works meeting thus continued a conflict that had been simmering for a long time at the Tesla plant. In the most recent works council election in the spring, the IG Metall list received the most votes with almost 40 percent, which the union viewed as a great success in view of the massive opposition from the company. However, the majority of employee representatives are still non-union and decidedly anti-union representatives. Works council chairwoman Schmitz was elected via the “Giga United” list, which consisted mainly of members and team leaders of management. “What we don’t need is a union,” Schmitz had already said during the election campaign. Currently, only 16 union representatives sit on the 39-member works council.

Trade union refers to the Basic Law

Union representative Bojert fundamentally rejected the criticism of the works council chairwoman at the meeting. The fact that the committee sometimes has heated arguments over issues is part of democracy. IG Metall is fundamentally “for Tesla” but advocates better working conditions. For his part, he criticized the managers, including Tesla boss Elon Musk, who had stirred up anti-IG Metall sentiment at the plant before the works council election. Bojert: “Anyone who fights unions is violating the Basic Law, violating our constitution. That has to be said after this election campaign.”

This article first appeared on ntv.de

Source: Stern

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