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Tesla News Europe: Workers Create Works Council, Fastned Chargers Added to Navigation

Tesla may need to work with a union at its German factory and has added Fastned to its navigation in Europe.

Ever since Tesla announced it was building a manufacturing facility in Grünheide, Germany, people have been wondering about the “union issue.” It is well known that Elon Musk is no friend of unions. So far, Tesla has managed to keep unions — particularly the hated United Auto Workers — out of its factories in America. But unions are strong in Germany.

Recently, Daniela Cavallo, the head of the works council — that’s how you say “union” in Germany — blasted Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess for saying as many as 30,000 workers could lose their jobs if the company doesn’t find a way to compete successfully with Tesla. Her statements were enough to force an extraordinary session of the mediation committee of the Volkswagen board of supervisors. That meeting was held this week, but the committee has yet to take action, with one insider telling Reuters things are “on  knife edge” when it comes to deciding whether Diess should stay or go.

Diess, perhaps more than anyone else, has been responsible for pushing the company, which employs almost 675,000 people worldwide, back from the brink of disaster after it got walloped by its diesel cheating scandal in 2015. It is Diess who directed the shift to electric cars, but opposition from the works council could have him updating his resumé on LinkedIn.

According to Autoblog, IG Metall — one of the most powerful unions in German manufacturing — has announced that seven employees have taken the first steps towards setting up a works council and are planning to choose an election committee on November 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, but only about a sixth of them have been hired so far, meaning the election of a works council will not take place soon, IG Metall said.

IG Metall claims Tesla wants to pay workers at its new factory in Germany 20% less than what workers at other German auto companies earn, and will make up the difference in stock options and bonuses rather than benefits negotiated through the collective bargaining process. Earlier this year, Musk was ordered to delete a 2018 tweet threatening that US employees would lose their stock options if they formed a union.

Musk has not been shy about criticizing German laws and procedures. In a letter to authorities in April, he claimed the country’s complex planning requirements were at odds with the urgency needed to fight climate change. Tesla has experienced pushback over its factory in Grünheide from environmental groups worried about taking down trees to make room for the building and what effect it will have on groundwater in an area that is already suffering from occasional shortages of drinking water.

The prevailing attitude in the United States is very much anti-union, but is far different in Germany where unions are considered an essential and valuable part of the economy. The indomitable Mister Musk may find his anti-union animus is less welcome there than it is back home. How this will play out is anyone’s guess.

Tesla Adds Fastned Charging Stations To Navigation In Europe

In EV charging news, the convergence between Tesla’s Supercharging network and European CCS based charging networks is accelerating. Beginning this weekend, the more than 160 Fastned charging stations in Europe will be listed in Tesla’s navigation right alongside Tesla’s own Superchargers. Tesla drivers will be able to see each Fastned location and its power level, and navigate to the particular station with an ability to precondition the battery for faster charging.

The Fastned fast charging infrastructure is considered to be one of the best in Europe. The locations are usually along major routes and the stations offer multiple CCS Combo 2 chargers in a drive-thru layout with a solar canopy. The reliability levels reported by the company are also very high. The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles sold in Europe are equipped with a CCS2-compatible charging connector. Older Model S and Model X vehicles that have an AC Type 2-compatible charging connection will have to use a CCS2 adapter. Tesla drivers will need to have a Fastned account to use the Fastned chargers.

Reducing the number of plugs and connectors EV drivers need to enjoy their cars while away from home will give a tremendous boost to the EV revolution.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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