The union reports a swift increase in membership due to mounting concerns about health, safety, and excessive workloads.
Tesla Inc. refuted allegations from a German union and recent media coverage suggesting that the health and safety measures at its gigafactory near Berlin were inadequate. The company emphasized that safeguarding workers' well-being remained a top priority.
Over the past two weeks, the U.S. electric vehicle manufacturer faced scrutiny after reports from German media, citing local authority documents in Brandenburg, revealed an unusually high number of work-related accidents resulting in workers needing at least three days of sick leave at the plant, where approximately 11,000 employees are employed.
The incidents included severe injuries such as burns and amputations.
On Monday, the German union IG Metall stated that its membership from Tesla workers was rapidly increasing due to concerns regarding health, safety, and overwork. Reuters was not able to independently verify either the union's assertions or the media report.
In an official statement, Tesla stated that workers underwent training on essential safety protocols and were provided with appropriate protective gear.
The company further emphasized that the plant underwent routine inspections by local authorities to ensure compliance with safety measures.
However, Tesla did not directly respond to the specific assertions made by the union or the media reports concerning the frequency of accidents or the number of workers on sick leave at the plant.
On Monday, Reuters interviewed twelve workers from the factory.
Among them, four expressed contentment with their working conditions. However, eight workers mentioned that there was excessive pressure for speed, and some reported a high occurrence of accidents as well as difficulties in receiving overtime pay.
The authority responsible for occupational safety and health in Brandenburg informed Reuters that it only maintained records of severe work-related accidents resulting in over six weeks of inpatient treatment or permanent physical impairment. According to their records, there were six such incidents at the Tesla plant in 2021 and 2022.
The authority's personnel conducted safety inspections at the plant on a weekly basis during its construction phase and currently visit biweekly, including unannounced checks every 6-8 weeks.