Tesla Sues Over Claims It’s Running a “Giga-Sweatshop” With Known QC Issues

Tesla is no stranger to negative media attention and, perhaps more importantly for someone like CEO Elon Musk, negative buzz online (on social media and within the EV community) over quality control issues. But it’s drawing the line at China.
Tesla sues Chinese media outlet over expose claiming it runs a sweatshop, hiding known QC issues 1 photo
Photo: Tesla
Tesla is suing PingWest over a series of articles on the supposed dire conditions at the Shanghai Gifactory, Global News reports (hat tip to Electrek). Parent company Beijing PingWest Interact Technology Co has been served with an indictment and an affidavit and was given until February 8 to submit new evidence in the case, if any.

So what could possibly have been printed to get Tesla bosses so upset as to file a lawsuit?

The story from PingWest paints a very sad picture of the working conditions at the factory (“Giga-sweatshop,” they call it), from the environment of office bullying to increased demands and decreased benefits, extended and unpaid working hours, and the overall feeling of complete dehumanization of staff. The Gigafactory, it is claimed, was once heaven but has since turned into hell. If you’re into that sort of imagery.

The expose cites unnamed sources saying all types of horrible and unprofessional stories. Those include calling a junior worker back to the office even though he was on leave at his father’s funeral, receiving stale bread and instant noodles for “snacks” during long hours, not having their complaints and concerns addressed, and generally being made to feel as if they don’t matter. “If you can do it, then do it. If you can’t, just leave” is apparently a favorite line with managers.

Then, there’s another, perhaps more serious claim being made: Tesla is knowingly selling vehicles with defective parts to keep up with deadlines and increased demand. One source even claims the cars now leaving the assembly line are “essentially” defective from the start, with Tesla allegedly operating on the reasoning that they can fix whatever comes back without issuing recalls or admitting guilt. Or, better yet, that they can keep up with increased demand by lowering pre-delivery inspection standards instead of fixing what’s wrong with the cars.

The piece also namedrops several people within Tesla’s chain of command that are responsible for all that’s wrong at the Gigafactory. Among them is Tom Zhu (Zhu Xiaotong), Tesla’s Global Vice President and President for Greater China. He's claimed to be the one who instigated the current trend of corporate bullying, demanding that employees be on call 24/7 and asking that staff be monitored, censored and essentially terrorized, so they’re kept in check.

Tesla has not issued any statement regarding the ongoing litigation and, even if it still had a PR department, it still couldn’t say much about it. However, the fact that it’s suing over the story is meant to send a very clear message: none of what has been said is true.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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