Plant manager at Tesla’s German factory says 65,000 mugs have gone missing—’I’m really tired of approving orders to buy more’

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Among the myriad workplace issues and worker strife at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Germany, one of the most contentious subjects for management may be that of missing mugs.

In a heated staff meeting otherwise filled with safety and pay concerns, Tesla plant manager Andre Thierig was troubled by the tens of thousands of coffee mugs that he said have gone missing from the factory, according to German state-owned broadcaster DW. 

“We’ve bought 65,000 coffee mugs since we started production here. 65.000! Statistically speaking, each of you already has five Ikea coffee cups at home,” Thierig told Tesla factory workers, DW reported.

The plant manager said he was fed up and promised to take away cutlery from the break room if the thefts did not stop. Meanwhile, employees laughed and applauded the seemingly trivial issue during a tense meeting, DW reported.

“I’m really tired of approving orders to buy more coffee cups,” Thierig said.

The coffee cup calamity comes as Tesla’s German factory in Grünheide, southeast of Berlin, has faced many workplace and safety issues. The problems have gotten so bad that Jannes Bojert, the secretary of the IG Metall union that represents many of the Tesla workers, said a strike is not out of the question, although it is a “last resort,” DW reported.

After several delays to its opening, the Gigafactory began operating in 2022 and has faced an abundance of headaches since then.

The plant has been plagued by safety issues, with German magazine Stern reporting last year that the Tesla factory had many more reported safety problems than average and three times more safety issues than a similar German Audi plant. Tesla later rejected claims made by the media and the IG Metall union that its safety provisions were inadequate, Reuters reported.

After Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed plans to cut 10% of employees worldwide, the roughly 12,000 workers at the German Gigafactory are now concerned about their job security as well. 

The Gigafactory has also been criticized by environmentalists for clear-cutting trees to create and expand the plant, as well as its effect on local water sources. Arsonists in March left the Tesla factory—and 60,000 nearby residents—without power after setting alight a high-voltage power mast near the plant. 

The attack on the factory prompted a visit from Musk himself. It’s doubtful that the case of the missing mugs will make the same waves.

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