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Billionaire says Americans avoid work, unlike Chinese — Analysis

Elon Musk praises Chinese labor, says people in the US “are trying to avoid going to work at all”

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, has predicted that China will produce successful makers of electric vehicles because of the nation’s strong work ethic – an attribute that he sees as lacking in the US.

“I think there will be some very strong companies coming out of China,”Musk stated Tuesday that he was a Financial Times reporter. “There’s just a lot of super-talented hardworking people in China that strongly believe in manufacturing.”

Musk, who ranks as the world’s richest person with a fortune estimated by Forbes at more than $225 billion, contrasted Chinese manufacturing workers with their counterparts in the US: “They won’t just be burning the midnight oil, they will be burning the 3 a.m. oil. The factory is not their home, but they won’t leave it. Americans are trying to avoid work.

Tesla has reportedly employed some labor practices at its Shanghai factory that it clearly couldn’t or wouldn’t try in the US. Bloomberg last month reported that workers were allowed to sleep on the floor of the factory after the three week lockdown had ended. Every employee received a sleeping bag, an air mattress, and was required to work 12 hour shifts six days per week.

Washington’s National Labor Relations Board ruled last year that Tesla unlawfully interrogated and threatened workers over their efforts to form a union. Employees are also suing the company for creating a racist culture. Musk has been accused by other workers of being too demanding.

Musk, a South African born man, claims that he never shied from heavy work. He told Bloomberg in 2018 when he felt pain for his employees, “I wanted mine to be worse.”He reportedly slept on the floor of the factory when Tesla was trying to reach production targets for an EV in 2018. At the time, he told CBS News that he didn’t have time to go home for a shower, adding, “I don’t believe, like, people should be experiencing hardship while the CEO is, like, off on vacation.”

After the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, America’s work ethic appears to have declined. In March 2019, an unprecedented 4.54 million Americans quit their jobs. That’s 23% higher than the previous year. Employers have struggled to meet untold numbers of vacant posts. Most employees are choosing to leave the workplace rather than go back into work since companies have ended their remote-work policies during the epidemic.

Americans say life’s too short to waste on work

US worker productivity dropped 7.5% from a year earlier in 2022’s first three months, the sharpest decline since 1947. Employers were also paying more for less because unit labor costs rose nearly 12 percent.

Musk reached an agreement last month to buy Twitter for $44 billion, setting off alarm bells among the social media giant’s employees, some of whom accused him of being a racist who will take the company “in the wrong direction.” Musk said last week that he’s not worried about employees leaving Twitter, saying, “It’s a free country,” and those who don’t feel comfortable at the company under his leadership may leave of their own accord.

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