Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Watching a SV company suddenly have to deal with German workers' rights (think: unions, significant protection from being fired without cause, rights to paid holiday and enforced maternity leave, even workers' councils which have representation at a management level) is going to be hilarious.

I get you are joking, but there are two points that I would like to raise:

There are many, many SV companies with large offices in parts of the world with very strong workers rights. I work in one of these. There is no problem, other then I'm not expected to work weekends and be on-call at unreasonable hours. If this is required I would need to be compensated for it.

Secondly; perhaps I am reading into this, but I get the sense you are implying that "less work" will be done due to these protections. You may be surprised to find out that German factories are actually quite efficient ;) , and that treating workers well gets them to work more, not less. Having a healthcare system that means you can bring your children to A&E at the weekend and not get caught for $1000s means you can come to work on Monday with a clear head.

Having protection from "right to work" means you can voice an opposing opinion without fear.

Having a paid holiday means you can come back to work refreshed with a clear mind, and not "burn out" as fast.

Having maternity, and paternity leave, means happier parents (like, in a abstract way, not like in a oh I haven't slept in 8 months I'm soooo happy way). Let's call it out here. Giving children a good start in life sets them up for success.

On a global team you can quite clearly see the results of the different work environments, and the various impacts each environment has. From a tech point of view, I see this most critically in the ability to voice controversial opinions, or push back against your manager for example.

I’m outside the SV bubble for the most part, the “joke” if there was one was that Tesla is going to have serious culture clash if they try to treat their German workers like their workers elsewhere, and I’m going to be reading about the resulting court cases for years.

Rumour has it that Amazon has a dedicated judge at the labour court in Munich. Just the existance of such a rumour is telling you a lot.

Amazon has adds running where they have workers affirming that the working conditions are allright. It's pretty uncanny.

Because of their warehouse operations nearby or other functions? I always thought they treat people in their offices better than their warehouses?

There is only one warehouse nearby, Munich is the German HQ so. Let's just say that Amazon likes to use the applicable laws to the fullest. Sometimes that means getting an official verdict at court.

>Having protection from "right to work" means you can voice an opposing opinion without fear.

I assume you mean "at-will employment"?

Right-to-work laws, in the US, are laws saying that employees cannot be forced to join a union as a prerequisite to employment.

At-will employment laws, again in the US, are laws saying that employees can be terminated for any or no reason, except for a list of specific reasons like race, sex, age, religion, and probably a few others. Unless there's some kind of employment contract, which the majority of jobs in the US don't have.

Yes, I meant "at will", sorry ;)

I was told about a support call with a US university a few years ago and the director fired the sys admin in the middle of the conference call. It was in the EMEA time zone (like 4am central). Everyone heard about it because that sort of thing just wouldn't be done here.

The guy had done nothing wrong, he had been up all night trying to fix the problem, and the director came on the call and lost it.

I always think in that environment so much of your energy must be spent on ass coverage and politics over working.

They already own Grohmann, so I'm guessing they have a fair idea. I remember a flap at the time about Tesla forcing them to ditch their other clients as quickly as possible, which was a bit of a culture shock, but why else would they have bought them in the first place?


Grohmann is located at the other end of Germany. Even for them, opening a factory in Brandenburg would probably result in quite a culture shock.

Labor law is federal and exactly the same.

But mentality is local and very different between for example Schwaben and Uckermark.

This subthread is not about a Swabian moving to Berlin, but about Tesla operating in Germany.

It is entirely about labor law ("Watching a SV company suddenly have to deal with German workers' rights"), not about whether the bread roll should be called "Weckle" or "Schrippe".

Wrong, the culture shock in this thread was mentioned in relation to Tesla making Grohmann to ditch their other clients, which has nothing to do with labor law. This has to do with mentality, so there is not point for you playing the thread police here.

I'm all for some cultural drama, but I'd wager that they have done basic due diligence and they are aware of these factors :)

I would have thought the same about Walmart, and yet: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2006/jul/28/retail.mone...

Not always :-)

An American Manger in BT NI manged to cause some major problems by not being sensitive to the special employment laws in Northern Ireland.

Also IMARSAT had a spectacular car crash of a court case in the UK when some one blindly imported US style HR

Maybe this is part of the reason why he does it.

"Look he made it work in Germany with their "strict" workers rights. It can't be so bad"

Also going to Germany, right in the face of the traditional car industry is a great show off too.

Oh well...maybe there were other reasons:


You seem to be unaware that Tesla already has a sizable presence in Europe, including a final assembly plant in the Netherlands. Some of the details are different, but I don't see employing a significant amount of Germans being novel for them.

German labor laws and how unions work there is rather different to other European countries - the Netherlands included.

Germany has been spearheading the neoliberal assault on democracy alongside the US and Great Britain as early as the 1980s. In the 2000s we created "Europe's best low-income sector" (Gerhard Schroeder) and destroyed the pension scheme. This dramatically decreased social security among low- to middle-income workers.

German labor institutions are strategically oriented towards collaboration (much like in the US), they are extremely centralized and anti-democratic and if you're in the workers' council and you're a member of the supervisory board, socio-economically you belong to the upper class. This facilitates the same corporate conspiracies as everywhere else.

Furthermore, East-Germany's labor market as a whole is much more like Eastern European labor markets. It is super-exploited. However, it is right in Western Europe where you've got access to decent infrastructure and massive subsidies.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact