Tesla Can Have a ‘Positive Effect’ on Germany, Says Brandenburg Minister

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Tesla was awarded a COVID-19 rules waiver in Germany ahead of its Grünheide County Fair Event, allowing the company to have up to 9,000 guests – compared to the government’s normal gathering limit of 5,000 guests.

Environmentalist groups in Germany are pointing out that the move is part of a continued pattern of disruptive behavior from Tesla, for which some have said the company is being offered too much slack, according to Reuters.

The comments also come after Tesla was early in breaking new ground on the site, before it had even received final approval. Currently, the company is just weeks away from its final approval, and the factory is set to begin operation by the end of this year, at the least.

Brandenburg Head of union IG Metall Birgit Dietze said, “Tesla has to stick to environmental protection laws, building laws, and of course labor and unionization laws.”

But this is hardly the first time Tesla has been criticized for its impact on surrounding communities and environments in Germany.

In January, German environmentalists and Grünheide locals criticized Tesla for building prior to seeking approval on land that one local called “immense, irreversible harm” to the local “groundwater, to the forest, the flora, fauna.”

In December, Tesla was forced to suspend its deforestation for the site due to the disturbance of local, hibernating snakes. The company was later approved to continue the process, in part by claiming it would replant more trees than it destroyed.

Despite the criticism of Tesla’s plans in Germany, the electric automaker was also praised by Brandenburg’s economy minister.

“I am fully convinced Tesla can have a positive effect on Germany,” said Brandenburg’s economy minister Joerg Steinbach, to Reuters.

“The fundamental idea of taking a close look at current legislation and checking whether it could perhaps be modernised – without risking a loss to legal clout – is in my opinion absolutely worth considering,” he added.

Of the 12,000 positions needed for Giga Berlin, Tesla has filled about 800 to 1200 of them, according to IG Metall and Steinbach.

With the factory just 45 minutes from the Polish border, Tesla may hire workers from outside Germany, as wages can be lower than non-union labor, with Tesla’s wages apparently at 20% below union rates.

“20% under German wages is still very good pay for Polish workers,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, an expert on the German auto industry, told Reuters.

“German automakers couldn’t do it; they’d get into big trouble with the unions. But Tesla can do it,” he said.

On the other hand, Tesla has criticized the German government for its slow approvals process, which it claims has “contradicted the urgency to plan and realize projects “to battle climate change.”

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