The allegations against Tesla Giga Berlin are serious, and now Tesla is addressing them. The American electric car manufacturer has refuted accusations of inadequate workplace safety at its Grünheide factory near Berlin, asserting that the health and safety of its employees are its utmost priority.
Tesla is not taking these allegations lightly. In response to inquiries, the company stated, "For us at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, the health protection of our employees is our top priority and therefore occupational safety" German agency DPA quotes (via Spiegel). They claim that all workstations are assessed using standardized risk evaluations, and any necessary measures are implemented. Additionally, all employees are equipped with the necessary safety gear and receive training in protective measures.
In late September, "Stern" magazine reported a significant number of workplace accidents at the Tesla factory in Grünheide near Berlin. Tesla replied to the allegations of environmental pollution also made in the report by "Stern" and admitted that there had been several incidents on the factory site during construction and since the start of the operations, but claimed that none caused environmental damage and that if necessary, corrective measures were implemented.
According to Tesla's own reports, there were 190 reportable accidents recorded between June and November 2022. To put this into context, the wood and metal trade association reported an average of 16 reportable accidents per 1,000 employees at car manufacturers and suppliers in 2022. Using Tesla's workforce of around 4,000 employees as of May 2022 as a reference point, statistically, there should have been approximately 64 reportable accidents—far fewer than the 190 reported by "Stern." However, the cooperative did not provide specific figures for Tesla.
Tesla has now pledged to analyze and evaluate these accidents with qualified personnel. They are prepared to take necessary precautions or make changes based on their findings. Occupational safety measures within the entire factory are subject to frequent and regular inspections by the relevant authorities.
The opposition left-wing faction in the Brandenburg state parliament intends to address the issue of workplace accidents at the Tesla factory in an upcoming parliamentary session. The Grünheide factory opened its doors in March 2022 and currently employs around 11,000 people. Environmentalists and conservationists are concerned about potential risks, particularly since a portion of the factory site is located in a water protection area.
Employees have also highlighted serious deficiencies in health protection and occupational safety, resulting in sickness rates of up to 30 percent and a high number of work-related accidents, as reported by IG Metall. In a groundbreaking move, over 1,000 employees joined forces to demand better working conditions. They arrived at work during the night and early shifts, proudly displaying IG Metall stickers on their T-shirts with the slogan: "Together for safe & fair work at Tesla."
Dirk Schulze, the district manager of IG Metall Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony, emphasized the power of collective action, stating, "When individuals demand improvements, they either face problems or nothing changes. But together, it's possible to push for improvements." According to IG Metall, many Tesla employees have expressed concerns about harsh working conditions, citing short cycle times, staff shortages, and excessive production targets. IG Metall described an "atmosphere of fear," a description that Tesla and the union's description of the action in the factory both rejected.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube. He has more than a decade of expertise in the automotive industry with special interest in Tesla and electric vehicles.