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Tesla’s Elon Musk Criticised Over Back-to-Work Order

Musk previously played down the risks of coronavirus, saying “the coronavirus panic is dumb” and children were “essentially immune”. He later contracted Covid-19 twice.

Tesla EV charger seen at Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai
Tesla will update the software on Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y marques. Photo: Reuters


Some Tesla workers have criticised a memo from chief executive Elon Musk ordering employees to stop working from home.

The anonymous employees expressed displeasure in posts on the anonymous app Blind, which requires users to sign up using company email as proof of employment at firms.

“If there’s a mass exodus, how would Tesla finish projects? I don’t think investors would be happy about that,” one Tesla employee wrote.

“Waiting for him to backpedal real quick,” another worker posted.

A California-based workers advocacy group assailed Musk’s return to office plan.

“Employers including the state government are finding that mandating a return of all employees is a recipe for outbreaks,” Stephen Knight, executive director at Worksafe, wrote in a statement emailed to Reuters.


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Elon Musk ‘Disregards Safety’

“Unfortunately Tesla’s disregard for worker safety is well documented, including their flouting of the county public health department at the start of the pandemic,” he wrote.

In May 2020, Musk reopened a Tesla factory in Fremont, California, defying Alameda County’s lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Tesla reported 440 cases at the factory from May to December 2020, according to county data obtained by legal information site Plainsite.

Last year, Musk’s rocket company SpaceX reported 132 Covid-19 cases at its headquarters in the Los Angeles-area city of Hawthorne, according to county data.

Musk previously played down the risks of coronavirus, saying “the coronavirus panic is dumb” and children were “essentially immune”. He later contracted Covid-19 twice.

Musk said last month: “American people are trying to avoid going to work at all,” whereas Chinese workers “won’t even leave the factory type of thing … they will be burning the 3am oil.”


Shanghai Cranking Up Production

Tesla’s Shanghai factory has been working all out to ramp up production following the lockdown of the Chinese economic hub, which forced the factory to shut for 22 days.

While some big employers have embraced voluntary work-from-home policies permanently, others, including Alphabet’s Google, are asking employees to return to office gradually.

Alphabet has required employees be in offices at least three days a week starting in early April, but many employees have been approved for fully remote work.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal tweeted in March that Twitter offices would be reopening but employees could still work from home if they preferred.


  • Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell




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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


AF China Bond