Tesla is keeping Chinese workers in a military camp to stop them getting COVID-19, report says

Employees have reportedly been separated from their families and society, sleeping in shifts while other employees work

Adam Smith
Wednesday 25 May 2022 17:08
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Tesla is reportedly isolating thousands of workers in former factories and a military camp in China.

Bloomberg reports that this is part of the electric car maker’s attempt to ramp up production in Shanghai, ensuring that the workers do not contract the coronavirus.

The workers will be used during a second shift in the Shanghai Gigafactory, which was shut down in March as the city was locked down but is operating now under a ‘closed loop system’ approved by the Chinese authorities.

Workers are quarantined for between two to three days to meet government requirements before they can interact with external employees. The campsite is reportedly fitted with mobile toilets and showers – shuttled between the accommodation and their work site by bus.

Tesla reportedly wanted to use the vacant isolation centres that China built to quarantine people who contracted the coronavirus, but disused factories and the camp was more “feasible”.

Employees in the first shift are reportedly sleeping on the floor of the factory. They must work 12-hour shifts, six days a week, to bring production back up to speed. They have been reportedly separated from their families and the outside world in general.

Workers in this closed loop system does help boost production, but workers have to share beds in what Bloomberg describes as makeshift dorms. Some employees work while others sleep, before changing roles.

After the United States, China is Tesla’s most important market, producing over 2,000 vehicles per day while at full speed which are then exported to other parts of Asia and Europe.

Tesla did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment. A representative for Tesla in China told Bloomberg that there were no further updates that could be shared about the factory’s status.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has praised Chinese workers in the past. “I think there will be some very strong companies coming out of China, there is just a lot of supertalented hardworking people in China who strongly believe in manufacturing,” he said earlier this month.

“They won’t just be burning the midnight oil, they will be burning the 3am oil, they won’t even leave the factory type of thing, whereas in America people are trying to avoid going to work at all.”

Mr Musk and Tesla has historically illegally threatened and retaliated against employees, according to a judgement passed in 2018, when the billionaire suggested employees who chose to join a union would give up company-paid stock options.

Last year, Mr Musk also applauded Xi Jinping. “The economic prosperity that China has achieved is truly amazing, especially in infrastructure! I encourage people to visit and see for themselves,” tweeted Mr Musk.

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