Tesla has declined demands for a collective labor agreement at its Gigafactory in Berlin, following months of discussion surrounding the company’s working conditions.
Instead, managers at the Grünheide factory have highlighted the benefits Tesla offers to its employees in a recent report from the German publication dpa International, rejecting the need for an outside labor agreement with the country’s largest union, IG Metall.
“We are focusing on ourselves in order to find solutions for our employees quickly and without unnecessary escalation and thus make changes happen significantly faster,” said Andre Thierig, senior director of manufacturing at Tesla’s Giga Berlin.
Thierig also said that Tesla would routinely review necessary changes at the plant, adding that he thinks the automaker’s benefits are competitive and can’t be found at any other company in the area or in the automotive industry.
Some of the benefits offered to Giga Berlin workers include free electric vehicle (EV) charging, free transportation through its employee shuttle, a subsidized train ticket that can be used across the country, and the ability to lease bicycles from the automaker.
In response to the rejection, Brandenburg Economic and Labor Minister Jörg Steinbach said that he plans to keep encouraging Tesla to sign onto a collective agreement.
“Of course it would be good if IG Metall and Tesla could agree on a collective labour agreement or at least talk about it,” Steinbach said in a statement to the publication. “This would bring many advantages for both sides.”
Michaela Schmitz, Giga Berlin works council leader, also highlighted the company’s opposition to signing a collective labor agreement with outside trade unions, saying that the automaker doesn’t want to be subject to demands from outside parties.
“We are close to the workforce,” Schmitz said. “Our agility will be lost if we are influenced from outside.”
The statements come after a months-long effort from Swedish union IF Metall to get Tesla’s German plant to sign a collective agreement after the union sent the automaker a strike notice in October. The union later worked with Sweden’s transport agency and mail provider to withhold license plates from Tesla, though it was threatened with fines from the country after the automaker filed dual lawsuits in late November.
IG Metall also went on to call IF Metall’s strike “illegal,” highlighting that the decision to sign a labor agreement must come from the plant’s workers themselves, rather than through the use of sympathy strikes with neighboring countries or withheld license plates.