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Tesla employees in Germany plan works council

BERLIN — Employees at Tesla’s huge new factory near Berlin plan to elect a works council to represent their interests, a German trade union said on Tuesday.

The IG Metall trade union said seven employees had taken the first step toward setting up a works council and they plan to choose an election committee on Nov. 29.

“A works council ensures that the interests of the workforce have a voice and a weight. This is in line with the democratic work culture in Germany,” said Birgit Dietze, IG Metall district leader in Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony.

The Tesla plant near Berlin will employ 12,000 workers, although only about a sixth of that have been hired so far, meaning the election of a works council will not take place soon, IG Metall said.

IG Metall has said applicants have told it that Tesla, whose CEO Elon Musk is known for his rocky relationship with organized labor, is offering pay 20 percent below the collectively bargained wages offered at German automakers.

Tesla is also shaking up conventional German contracts by offering packages with stock options and bonuses rather than predetermined holiday pay.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a phone call or email request for comment.

Earlier this year, Musk was ordered to delete a 2018 tweet threatening that U.S. employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union.

Musk has made his irritation for German laws and processes known, saying in a letter to authorities in April that the country’s complex planning requirements were at odds with the urgency needed to fight climate change.

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