Tesla says most German plant employees vote against IG Metall union

BERLIN, (Reuters) – The majority of Tesla’s staff in Germany decided against the IG Metall Union and opted for non-unionised workers for the new works council, the company said on Wednesday in a statement.

The IG Metall union still expects to take 16 of 39 seats, making it the largest group in the new Tesla Gruenheide plant works council, the union said in a separate statement.

The top German trade union had hoped to gain greater influence over pay and working conditions after it accused the U.S. carmaker of inadequate safety provisions. It had put forward 106 candidates in an attempt to get a majority.

That would enable it to elect the council’s chairperson and gain greater control over areas where the union has taken issue with the carmaker, known for its critical stance towards unions.

IG Metall district manager Dirk Schulze congratulated the workers who got seats. “You ran a fantastic election campaign in such a short time with a clear and convincing programme for better working conditions at Tesla,” he said.

Among IG Metall demands was to hire new employees, better planning of working hours, at least 20 days of freely available vacation, better health protection, more security, higher pay and shorter working hours.

In October of last year, Tesla rejected IG Metall claims that health and safety provisions at its gigafactory near Berlin were inadequate, saying protecting workers was a top priority.

Tesla said the new works council will start its activities next week.

Reporting by Maria Martinez, editing by Sarah Marsh and David Gregorio