Tesla chief Elon Musk has personally engaged in discussions with management and workers at the California-based automaker's automation division in Germany to try to stave off a possible strike that would threaten deliveries of the Model 3. Musk held a question-and-answer session with workers at Tesla Advanced Automation Germany, which Tesla bought last year when it was called Grohmann Engineering, to hear their concerns, Electrek reports. The division has almost 700 workers, and those workers have threatened to strike on the orders of their union IG Metall.

The division's complaints are twofold: IG Metall, Germany's biggest union, has said the workers are getting paid about 30-percent less than the union pay scale, so workers are looking to be paid on average about $270 a month more than Tesla has offered. Additionally, Tesla jettisoned all of Grohmann Engineering's other automaker clients so that the unit could focus on the Model 3 deadline, sparking concerns that Tesla may lay off workers in the future.

Musk has responded to such concerns by attempting to reassure workers that there are no layoffs planned for at least five years, while offering workers bonuses and Tesla shares that would vest during the next four years. Musk has been critical of unions in the past, including alleging that the United Auto Workers (UAW) has its primary allegiance with the Big 3 US automakers and is similarly questioning the motives of IG Metall as he negotiates with German workers.

Tesla is slated to start deliveries of the Model 3 in July, and is hoping to be full-speed on production by September. Tesla Advanced Automation Germany is considered key to the production ramp-up effort for Tesla's lowest-priced model.

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