Exhausted Tesla workers deplore factory conditions in Brandenburg

Exhausted Tesla workers deplore factory conditions in Brandenburg

Billionaire Elon Musk doesn’t limit his “move-fast-and-break-things" attitude to the online sphere: Barely a year after opening, workers at the 41-million-euro Tesla Gigafactory factory outside Berlin have said they are overworked, understaffed and sworn to secrecy by their employer.

Brandenburg Tesla workers lament factory conditions

Trade union IG Metall has said that it is concerned about the conditions that Tesla employees are working under at the company’s so-called Gigafactory in Brandenburg.

According to the union representative for Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony, Irene Schulz, employees have reported an overburdened shift system, working regular overtime on the weekends, understaffing and generally being overworked. Workers have also said that during the winter the factory is far too cold and during the summer, far too hot to work comfortably.

When the plant opened in March 2022, the international company had managed to recruit many employees despite massive wage discrepancies in different areas across the company. When the factory was in its infancy, the company was able to get away with offering wages below what is collectively agreed in the German metalwork industry, but since the summer employees have begun to question the unfair salary structure.

Speaking at an IG Metall press conference on Thursday afternoon, Schulz said that the working environment at the Grünheide Gigafactory does little to foster open discussions about conditions. “According to our observations,” Schulz said, “management culture in the company does not promote an open debate about employees' concerns”. 

Tesla employees afraid to discuss confidential contract with union

According to Schulz, all employees who work at Elon Musk’s Gigafactory are also required to sign a Faustian confidentiality contract which declares that they cannot openly discuss working conditions. Schulz said that the contract is mentioned to employees daily.

Speaking at the press conference, Schulz said that one of the most common questions she gets from Tesla employees is, “Are we actually allowed to discuss our employment contract with you?”

The union representative added that Musk’s employees have recently become concerned after the billionaire’s company advertised a job for a security officer with law enforcement or intelligence experience. According to Schulz, the security officer would be employed to uncover cases where workers had broken their secrecy agreements. Tesla did not respond to this comment from Schulz.

Thumb image credit: Kevin McGovern /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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