- A major German union has criticized the working conditions at Tesla’s giant Berlin plant.
- IG Metall said long hours mean workers have too little time for “leisure, family, and relaxation.”
- The union also says that workers fear speaking out, with one politician calling the claims “startling.”
Some workers at Tesla’s Brandenburg plant in Berlin, Germany have claimed that the firm has set unreasonable working hours and created a culture of fear, a major union said at a press conference Monday, as reported by Reuters.
At the conference, IG Metall, a German union representing workers at Tesla’s Gigafactory has criticized the electric carmaker for poor working conditions, Reuters reported. IG Metall said that it is in close contact with workers at the Gigafactory.
Employees at the plant reported working long hours with few breaks and free time, per Reuters. German business newspaper Handelsblatt said that staff said they experienced stressful shifts, frequently had to work on weekends, and had very high workloads thanks to too few staff.
Workers told IG Metall they were scared to talk about their working conditions because they signed non-disclosure agreements alongside their work contracts, Reuters reported.
IG Metall found a new role on Tesla’s website for a “Security Intelligence Investigator” tasked with protecting Tesla’s “intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential information.”
The job includes “collection of on-the-ground information both within and beyond the Tesla walls in priority locations in order to protect the company from threats,” which has aggravated fears about speaking up.
IG Metall’s district manager Irene Schulz said in a statement on Thursday that workers “started this project with great enthusiasm.”
She added, per an Insider translation: “For some time now, we have been observing that enthusiasm is waning and disappointment is spreading. The messages that reach us from the workforce are clear: Tesla is not doing enough to improve working conditions and leaves too little room for leisure, family, and relaxation.”
Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, made outside normal US working hours. IG Metall said it could not comment further at this time.
German politicians have expressed concern about the allegations and are calling for an investigation, Handelsblatt reported.
Sebastian Roloff, a member of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, told Handelsblatt that the allegations were “startling.”
Tesla struggled to hire at the Berlin-based factory because of low wages, IG Metall told Bloomberg in June. Experienced workers at the plant earned 20% less than staff at other German manufacturers, the union said at the time.