Rival manufacturers offer better wages and a better working environment.
Tesla's Berlin Gigafactory is reportedly experiencing a major staffing shortage along with low morale amongst existing employees, all of which is leading to failed production targets. The news comes from Wired UK, which doesn't exactly paint a rosy picture of the EV automaker's big plans for Europe.
Tesla has only managed to hire 7,000 workers to build the Model 3 and Model Y. A total of 12,000 was initially planned. Because of this, Tesla's ambitious production target of 500,000 units this year is not happening.
Why can't Tesla hire enough employees? Several reasons, among them low and unequal pay and inexperienced management. Germany has a highly competitive manufacturing sector, and Tesla failed to acknowledge that. Without effective leadership, the Berlin Gigafactory is experiencing what one employee, who wished to remain anonymous for understandable reasons, described as "total chaos."
They elaborated further: "Some people are off sick longer than they've actually worked. There are people who I haven't seen working for three weeks in six months. Many people are signed off sick because the motivation isn't there."
Working conditions are apparently that poor. German labor specialists hold a grim outlook for Tesla's staffing shortage, saying that the heavily unionized German auto sector is no match for the private EV automaker's policies. Tesla is the largest private company in Brandenburg, located west of Berlin. Also, workers can easily compare their work conditions to colleagues at nearby Volkswagen. Perhaps most troubling is that Tesla is paying workers 20% less than other companies requiring labor.
"Fundamentally, the German labor market has record employment despite coronavirus and inflation. There is a shortage of qualified workers everywhere," said a senior German labor market researcher. "Everyone who could be employed is already employed. That makes it very difficult to fill jobs."
Another vital factor is that about 10% of the factory's employees come from neighboring Poland. Tesla had hoped to recruit more Polish workers, but they faced language barriers due to conflicting policies. The current situation is far from what was reported last summer when Model Y production reached 1,000 units a week.
Since then, there has been a cardboard fire Tesla's own fire brigade couldn't extinguish and had to call the local fire department. It turns out the Gigafactory had zero working fire alarms at the time. Fresh graduates from engineering school also no longer view Tesla as an excellent workplace, preferring legacy brands like Porsche.
Tesla's German operations aren't expected to shut down, but there's a lot to be sorted out if those production targets are ever to be realized.