The final approval for the new Tesla car factory in Grünheide near Berlin is still pending.

However, the establishment of a works council is now to be set up just as quickly as with the establishment of production, which is already doing the first test runs: As IG Metall reported on Thursday, the election of the first Tesla employee representatives at the location for April 28 scheduled for February.

This follows from the formal announcement of the electoral board.

Dietrich Creutzburg

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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The union, which is very powerful in other companies in the auto industry, initially only has the role of a spectator.

As the workforce only began to build up last year, it has had little opportunity to recruit employees as members and gain a foothold in the company directly through them.

But she already runs an office in front of the factory premises.

And according to the IG Metall district manager for Berlin, Brandenburg and Saxony, Birgit Dietze, employees now drop by there regularly to find out more about the union and the advice it offers.

Binding to area collective agreement?

According to previous information, Tesla has now hired around 2,200 employees in Grünheide, later there will be 12,000.

According to IG Metall, the current figure is indirectly confirmed by the election announcement: the works council is said to have 19 members;

and this size is specified by the Works Constitution Act for companies with 2,001 to 2,500 employees.

IG Metall attaches great importance to supporting the founding of the works council from its current supporting role, at least in principle: It is "always a good thing" if workforces are given an interest group, said Dietze.

However, Tesla also gives reason to take a closer look: It is still at least unclear whether a works council will be set up there that actually represents the workforce.

"Commitment to Germany as an investment location"

She has reason to doubt the fact that management positions are naturally filled before positions in production begin to be filled.

This means that the proportion of production employees at the time of the works council election is likely to be significantly smaller than later in normal operation.

However, Dietze pointed out another legal requirement: If a workforce grows by more than half, the works council must be re-elected after two instead of four years.

So 2024 would be the next chance.

Another question is whether or when IG Metall will be able to bind Tesla to the collective bargaining agreement for the metal and electronics industry that applies to other car manufacturers.

She leaves no doubt that she has this goal and also wants to assert herself against the attitude of Tesla boss Elon Musk, which is known to be critical.

However, she also admits that this has a central requirement on her side: In order to build up the necessary collective bargaining power, she must first recruit enough Tesla employees as members.

In the politically still partly controversial fundamental question of what to think of the Tesla investment, IG Metall is clearly positioning itself in favor of Musk: For the first time in decades, a group is creating thousands of industrial jobs in eastern Germany, emphasized Dietze.

"This is good news and a strong commitment to Germany as an investment location." 

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