The automotive industry is a high-pressure environment, in which time is money and companies are always looking for ways to get a competitive edge over their rivals, producing as many cars as they possibly can for their showrooms to sell.
Sometimes, these competitive edges can end up backfiring on the employees, who end up working in unsafe or unsanitary conditions. On other occasions, the companies themselves can be the ones who find themselves in trouble for cutting corners or breaking financial rules.
Modern consumers probably assume that 21st century car factories are efficient and safe, with dozens of completed vehicles rolling off the production line every hour – yet even the most innovative factory has its own dirty little secrets that the company owners want to keep hidden from public view
15 Daimler Caught Bribing Officials
The US authorities caught German car manufacturer Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, bribing officials around the globe to secure lucrative contracts. The allegations included claims that Daimler had gifted an armored S-Class Mercedes-Benz to one of the leaders of the Turkmenistan government, and the company ended up paying a $185 million fine.
14 Ford Hired Secret Police For Their Factories
In the early days of the automotive industry, the owners of car companies weren’t keen to see unions in their workplaces. People like Henry Ford felt that union members were troublemakers, and bosses even went as far as to hire workers to spy on their fellow employees, and to report back on every aspect of their personal lives.
13 Factory Workers Injured By Robots
Modern production lines are mostly automated these days, with robots doing more to build cars than human workers. However, these robots can often malfunction, causing delays on the factory floor. Sometimes workers will try and fix these robots themselves, which can often lead to serious and even life-threatening injuries in the event they start up suddenly again.
12 Cancer-Causing Chemicals In VW Hybrids
Volkswagen may be one of the most successful German car manufacturers, but they have also had more than their fair share of problems over the years. The company faced legal action when it faked its emissions figures, while the company’s hybrid and electric vehicles were found to contain a cancer-causing chemical called cadmium.
11 High Incidence Of Cancer At GM Plant
Another company which has exposed its staff to the risk of developing cancer is American automotive giant, General Motors. Studies found that staff at the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio were four times more likely to develop terminal cancer than the general population. There was obviously something very unpleasant going on at that car factory.
10 No time off at Tesla
Tesla may be one of the new kids on the block in the automotive world, but they seem to have embraced a few working practices from the early-19th century if reports from workers are to be believed. Staff are even told by workaholic boss Elon Musk that they can’t take a break at weekends or even take sick leave.
9 Low Pay For Long Hours
Given the fact that drivers rely on cars to get them and their families safely from A to B, the people who work in car factories aren’t always working to 100% efficiency. Part of the reason for that is that they often end up working very long hours for low pay – despite the hi-tech nature of the jobs they are being asked to do.
8 Unions Banned From Car Factories
It is probably also surprising to learn that there are some 21st century car factories which still disapprove of unionizing in the workplace. The United Automobile Workers union has won many concessions for their members of the years, and yet Tesla bosses prefer to shut down any pro-union activity within their factory’s walls.
7 No Training On How To Work With Hi-Tech Equipment
Automotive production lines are becoming more hi-tech all the time, with employees expected to keep up with new innovations and new equipment – often without the workers being given any proper training or support in how to use the latest production line technology effectively and safely, putting them and their colleagues at risk of injury.
6 Tesla Call Lyft For Injured Workers
In the event that workers do get injured, you would expect that employers would take a responsible approach, reporting incidents to the proper authorities and ensuring that their staff get the proper medical car. Not at some Tesla factories, however, where line managers have been known to call a Lyft to take injured workers to hospital instead of an ambulance.
5 Intolerance In GM Factory
General Motors have been in trouble on a couple of occasions over racial discrimination, including charging black customers more for their car loans. There was even an unpalatable incident when racist graffiti was found at a GM factory in Toledo, Ohio, including a handwritten sign on the bathroom wall saying, “Whites Only”.
4 No Healthcare Insurance For Contractors
While most of the staff at car factories are employed directly by the company themselves, when a plant needs extra workers, car manufacturers have been known to take on contractors to pick up the slack. While staff and contractors may be paid the same, contractors don’t get any of the same benefits and don’t even get healthcare insurance.
3 Staff Have Lost Body Parts While Working
The injuries sustained by workers at automotive factories can be serious and even life-threatening. There have even been cases where individuals have ended up losing a limb after an incident on the production line, often involving hi-tech machinery which has malfunctioned in some way. Workers may be insured but their lives will never be the same again.
2 Employees Forced To Meet High Targets
One of the major factors behind serious accidents in automotive factories is the high pressure that workers feel in order to reach the strict targets which have been set by management. Staff have to ensure a certain number of cars are completed every day, or they can face penalties, which can often result in corners being cut.
1 Car Makers Face Big Fines For Safety Violations
Car manufacturers may try and hide accidents and safety violations to avoid getting into trouble, but when they do get found out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they can face some pretty serious fines. Tesla often find themselves in bigger trouble than most of their competitors, facing three times as many health and safety violations as its 10 largest competitors combined.
Sources: EIU, The Guardian, Auto Express, Motoring Research