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HomeHEADLINESTesla Declines Collective Wage Agreement at German Factory

Tesla Declines Collective Wage Agreement at German Factory

The US electric car manufacturer Tesla has categorically rejected a demand for collective labour agreements with the unions at its plant near Berlin.

“We are focusing on ourselves to find solutions for our employees quickly and without unnecessary escalation and thus make changes happen significantly faster,” plant manager André Thierig told dpa. This will be reviewed regularly, he said.

He said Tesla sees benefits for employees even without a collective agreement. A benefit structure has been implemented at the plant without collective labour agreements and offers the workforce a variety of benefits that are not found in the region or the industry, he said.

These include free charging of electric vehicles, free bus and train shuttles, a subsidized train ticket for use across Germany, and the leasing of bicycles.

In collective labour agreements, employers and trade unions agree on pay and working hours, among other things. According to the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), collective bargaining coverage is declining in Germany.

Brandenburg’s Economy Minister Jörg Steinbach said he would continue to campaign for Tesla in Grünheide to be bound by collective agreements.

“Of course it would be good if [metalworkers union] IG Metall and Tesla could agree on a collective labour agreement or at least talk about it,” Steinbach told dpa. “This would bring many advantages for both sides.”

Michaela Schmitz, head of the Tesla Works Council which represents the plant employees, also opposes collective bargaining involving the unions. “We are close to the workforce,” Schmitz told dpa.

“Our agility will be lost if we are influenced from outside.”

Even without a collective agreement, “in one and a half years, we have achieved salary increases of up to 18% in the production area,” she said.

Tesla announced a pay rise for employees at the plant in Grünheide near Berlin last year. This included a 4% increase last year and a €2,500 ($2,735) increase in annual salaries for production employees from February this year.

Union IG Metall is confident that there will be collective bargaining at Tesla: “It is up to our colleagues in the company to decide how quickly this will happen,” the union said.

The union sees great advantages: “Collective agreements not only ensure higher wages, they also protect the health of employees by guaranteeing recovery times, compensating for special stress, reducing working hours and preventing overwork.”

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The relationship between the car manufacturer and IG Metall is considered tense. Tesla rejected the wage increase that the union had demanded. In October, IG Metall district manager Dirk Schulze accused Tesla of not prioritizing the safety and health of its employees. The company rejected this as well.

According to its own figures, Tesla currently produces more than 250,000 electric vehicles a year in Grünheide with around 11,500 employees. The plant is set to be expanded.

 

Source: dpa

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