Tesla, the world’s largest electric car maker, is cutting thousands of production jobs out of concern about a global economic slowdown. The dismantling will be completed in the next three months, CEO Elon Musk announced on Tuesday in a video interview at the Qatar Economic Forum organized by the Bloomberg news agency.
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It’s about ten percent of wage-earning employees, which corresponds to 3.5 percent of the total workforce – so there aren’t that many. At the end of 2021, the US group employed around 100,000 people worldwide, so there would be more than 3,000 people affected.
The Tesla boss had already informed internally about the plans at the beginning of June. In an email available to the Reuters news agency, he justified this with a “super bad feeling” about economic development. A recession is possible in the near future, he said now. “It’s not certain, but it seems more likely.”
The US electric car pioneer wanted to maintain the record level of sales at the start of the year of around 310,000 vehicles in the second quarter. However, lockdowns in China have recently increasingly slowed down production at the Shanghai plant.
What the dismantling plans mean for the German Tesla plant in Grünheide in Brandenburg remained open. The job creation is going on there. A company spokesman was initially unavailable. At the weekend, the IG Metall trade union pointed out that the workforce in Grünheide was increasingly dissatisfied with wages that were too low and unequal. That is why the recruitment of new employees is not progressing as quickly as planned.
“Tesla wants to have around 12,000 employees on board by the end of the year. In order to achieve this goal, the management will soon have to up the ante on wages,” explained Birgit Dietze, head of the IG Metall district of Berlin-Brandenburg-Saxony.
According to the union, the pay is up to 20 percent lower than the standard wages at competing car manufacturers in the region. In the meantime, the Tesla factory management has started to offer more pay for new hires than for previous appointments.
The job cuts that have apparently already begun in the USA are causing trouble. Tesla is on trial in Texas on suspicion of mass layoffs without notice. Two former workers said they were summarily fired at the Sparks gigafactory in June, according to the lawsuit filed Monday. According to this, Tesla put more than 500 employees on the road this month.
According to federal labor law in the United States, a 60-day notice period is required for such a mass layoff. “Tesla merely notified employees that their terminations would be effective immediately,” the lawsuit reads. The fired employees are pursuing a class action lawsuit. The former employees are demanding wages and benefits for the 60 days.
A statement from Tesla was initially not available. Musk himself was dismissive on Tuesday. “Apparently anything Tesla-related gets a lot of clicks, whether it’s trivial or important,” he explained during the Qatar Economic Forum. “I would put the lawsuit you’re referring to in the ‘trivial’ category.”
Musk’s political beliefs were also a topic in the video interview. He had recently announced that he would vote for the Republicans in the future because President Joe Biden’s Democrats had become a “party of division and hatred”.