By Michael Elkins
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) workers at the company’s plant in Shanghai took to social media to appeal to Elon Musk and the Chinese public after being told over about cuts to their performance bonuses, according to online posts and employees. The same plant whose workers Musk praised last year for burning “the 3 a.m. oil” to keep operations running during the city’s two-month COVID lockdown.
It comes as Tesla has been slashing prices in multiple markets, including China where demand has been weakening, which has raised concerns about the company’s industry-leading profit margin.
The posts began appearing on forums late last week. Some took to Twitter to tweet to the billionaire.
“Please pay attention to the performance (bonus) of frontline workers at Tesla’s Shanghai factory being arbitrarily deducted,” said a person with the handle @AFeiywu on Twitter in a tweet directed at Elon Musk and Tesla’s Asia unit.
Two workers at the plant, where the EV maker employs around 20,000, told Reuters they were informed by their supervisors over the weekend about a cut to their quarterly bonus payout, which is linked to the factory’s performance.
The workers said Tesla supervisors mentioned a “safety incident” when they were asked about reasons for the bonus cut. They declined to be named out of concern for their jobs.
Aidan Chau, a researcher at Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, said it wasn’t uncommon for companies to penalize employees after a work accident but that it usually came out of a safety bonus.
“Deducting the performance bonus, which should be related to workers’ output and has nothing to do with work safety, is even more unfair,” said Chau.
Tesla is set to report first quarter results on Wednesday. A key focus for investors and analysts will be how its round of price reductions on its electric vehicles have cut into its margins.
Shares of TSLA are up 0.88% in pre-market trading on Monday.