Elon Musk faces battle with German Union over ultimatum to return to office

Elon Musk’s insistence that Tesla employees currently working from home do not take the risk of being fired if they do not return to the office is not well taken in Germany, where the company has recently opened a new factory.

The Tesla CEO emailed workers earlier this week that they could spend at least 40 hours in the office each week, and since workers at the firm’s North American plant are not unionized, employees probably can’t do much more than comply.

Workers at Tesla’s new Berlin factory, however, may not be so easy to push around. Reuters The report says that although there is no specific law in Germany giving workers the right to work from home, the Ministry of Labor plans to introduce new policies that will guarantee more flexibility for workers.

A more immediate problem for Musk is that workers at the Berlin plant recently elected 19 people to its first workers’ council, and one of the unions has announced that it will support any worker who opposes Musk’s demands. And since Tesla currently employs 4,000 people in Germany, the company wants to grow to 12,000, the union in question, IG Metal, may find itself very busy.

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“Anyone who disagrees with such unilateral claims and wants to stand up against them, according to the law, has the power of unions behind them in Germany,” said Birgit Ditz, IG Metal’s district leader in Berlin-Brandenburg-Sachsen. Reuters.

Musk’s belief that employees should be present in the office is contrary to the position adopted by other car manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.

“We have fundamentally different perspectives on creating attractive working environments and stand for empowerment and personal responsibility in our team to balance the ratio of mobile to personal work,” said Gunnar Killian, Volkswagen Group’s head of human resources. ReutersWhen a Mercedes spokesman told the news agency that “hybrid work is a viable model for the future.”

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