Social media protest erupts over ‘unfair' bonus cuts at Tesla's Shanghai factory

Workers are upset about cuts in performance-related pay and are asking CEO Elon Musk to intervene.

Social media protest erupts over ‘unfair' bonus cuts at Tesla's Shanghai factory

Hong Kong CNN

Tesla workers in Shanghai, who manufacture electric vehicles at the Tesla plant, are using social media to protest what they consider unfair reductions in pay based on performance and ask Elon Musk for intervention.

People who claim to work at the factory, the main export hub of the company, posted on social media over the weekend their anger about the recently announced reductions in their monthly bonus pay. After a fatal accident at Tesla's (TSLA's) facility in Feburary, they said that the'significant and malicious' reductions were announced to them.

According to these posts, factory managers cited the need for compensation in relation to an accident as a reason to reduce workers' bonuses.

This is unfair', said Er Gou in a Zhihu post. This safety incident occurred in the factory. This is not due to the [personal] shortcomings of workers.

The social media user who claimed to be a regular worker in a factory said that workers should not be penalized by pay deductions due to the company's liabilities problems.

The person stated that the reductions amounted to over 2,000 yuan (US$291) per month, which many characterized as a "huge amount".

According to Reuters, the amount is equal to about half the monthly base wage - 5,340 yuan ($777) -- at the Shanghai facility. Workers may also be entitled to overtime pay and bonuses based on performance in addition to the base salary.

Musk praised the Chinese workers' work ethic in an interview with Financial Times last May. He praised them for burning "the 3 a.m. lubricant" (the oil at three in the morning). Shanghai was in the middle of a Covid lockdown that lasted two months.

Six months later, in the month of November, Shanghai's factory broke a new monthly record with more than 100,000 cars. This was all achieved after Covid restrictions forced the factory to temporarily suspend its production.

Musk Investigated

Musk was urged to intervene by some employees who posted on Twitter (TWTR) despite mainland China's strict Internet controls.

'Please take note of the arbitrarily reduced performance of Tesla's Shanghai workers', said a user on Twitter with the handle AFeiywu in a tweet from a Shanghai IP address. Musk and Tesla Asia both were tagged.

Twitter is blocked on the mainland of China. Twitter is blocked in mainland China, but many people still use it.

CNN reached out to Tesla for comment, but did not receive a response.

A statement released by the Pudong District Government in Shanghai last Thursday stated that a'mechanical incident' took place in a Tesla factory welding workshop in February. One person was killed in this accident. According to a government investigation, the worker who died and his coworker were blamed for the accident.

Shanghai Gigafactory began operations in 2019 and is the largest car manufacturing facility outside of the United States. It employs about 20,000 workers.

According to its financial results, Tesla shipped 1.31 million cars worldwide in 2022. More than half of them were delivered from Shanghai. This was a 40% increase from 2021.

Tesla announced earlier this month that it would double its investment in China by building a large factory near its first location.