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German union fears Tesla’s new works council is too heavy

A logo of the electric-vehicle maker Tesla is seen near a shopping complex in Beijing, China January 5, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

BERLIN, November 24 (Reuters) – A works council set up by Tesla staff at the new Gruenheide plant near Berlin may be unrepresentative as most of the employees hired so far are middle managers or above, the largest German union warned on Tuesday.

IG Metall said seven Tesla employees, none of whom were members, called a meeting on Monday to choose a committee to organize elections for a board that would remain in place for at least two years.

“We are happy that there has been a kick start,” Birgit Dietze, head of IG Metall’s regional office for Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony, where the Tesla plant is located, told Reuters.

“What is important is that the works council is really there for all the employees … for us it’s a little too early.”

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under German labor law, employees must be with a company for six months before they can stand for the works council election – meaning that any body formed in the near future will likely be dominated by prominent figures from the workplace. leadership, the union said.

Dietze said a new election can only be called after two years, and only then if the membership has more than doubled. IG Metall says Tesla has hired about one in six of the 12,000 workers to be hired for the site so far.

The American electric vehicle manufacturer is operating in Gruenheide with prior authorization pending the green light from local authorities to start production. Tesla hopes to receive final approval by the end of 2021.

CEO Elon Musk has already fought with unions and was ordered in March to delete a 2018 tweet threatening to deprive U.S. employees of their stock options if they form a syndicate.

IG Metall opened an office near the Gruenheide factory earlier this year to provide support. Dietze said the union would not have advocated for the creation of a works council until more workers were hired.

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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