The US electric car manufacturer Tesla categorically rejects the demand for collective bargaining. “We are concentrating on ourselves in order to find solutions for our employees quickly and without unnecessary escalation and thus to implement significantly faster adjustments,” said plant manager André Thierig to the German Press Agency. This will be checked regularly.

Tesla: Benefits for employees even without a tariff

The company referred to a benefit structure. It was implemented without collective bargaining and offers the workforce a variety of advantages that cannot be found in the region or in the industry. This includes Tesla free charging of electric vehicles, free bus and train shuttles, a subsidized Germany ticket and the leasing of bicycles.

In collective agreements, employers and unions agree on, among other things, pay and working hours. According to the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), collective bargaining coverage is decreasing in Germany.

Brandenburg’s Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) wants to continue to campaign for Tesla to be bound by collective agreements in Grünheide. “Of course it would be good if IG Metall and Tesla could agree on a collective agreement or at least talk about it,” Steinbach told the dpa. “Like the social partnership as a whole, this would have many advantages for both sides.” However, he referred to the autonomy of the social partners, who have to negotiate about it.

Works council supports company management

Tesla works council leader Michaela Schmitz also opposes collective bargaining. “We are close to the workforce,” Schmitz told the German Press Agency. “Our speed is lost when we are influenced from outside.” She sees success regardless of a collective agreement: “We have achieved salary increases of up to 18 percent in the production area in a year and a half.” The fees are regularly reviewed and negotiated.

Tesla announced a wage increase for employees at the factory in Grünheide near Berlin last year. These include an increase of 4 percent last year and an increase in the annual salaries of production employees by 2,500 euros from February this year.

Union wants to stick with it

IG Metall is confident that there will be a collective agreement at Tesla: “How quickly this will happen will be decided by our colleagues in the company alone.” The union sees major advantages: “Collective agreements not only ensure higher wages, they also protect the health of employees by guaranteeing recovery times, balancing out special stress, reducing working hours and preventing overwork.”

The relationship between the car manufacturer and IG Metall is considered tense. The union claimed the wage increase, which Tesla rejected. IG Metall district manager Dirk Schulze accused Tesla in October of not putting the safety and health of its employees first. The company also rejected this.

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