A Mercedes-Benz factory employee in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Northern Spain, was fired after protesting the imminent threat of mass layoffs, according to an initial report from El Correo, Carbuzz reports.
The 38-year-old factory worker actually hijacked a Caterpillar heavy bulldozer located outside the facility, rammed it through the front gate, and wreaked havoc through more than 50 vehicles on the night of December 30.
Mercedes-Benz has fired #Basque worker from work in Vitoria-Gasteiz in the last day of the year 2020 and he has wrecked 50 vans. #NeoLiberalism #CorporateEmpire #angryworker #solidarity #Proletarianism #WorkerClass #langileria #RiseUp pic.twitter.com/IP1nX73PDH— Irlandarra (@aldamu_jo) December 31, 2020
Mercedes employee rampages through more than 50 vehicles
The man's rampage destroyed more than 50 Mercedes EQV, V-Class, and Vito commercial vans — at a total value of totaled vehicles of nearly 2.5 million dollars (more than 2 million euros).
Technically, the former employee was still working for Mercedes when he did it, but it's safe to say he's back on the job hunt now.
No one injured, security guards stopped man
The man's discontent with Mercedes must have run deep — since he had to drive the bulldozer 13 miles (nearly 21 km) to get to the factory. During his hijack, the man also damaged two additional industrial shovels, a parked car, and other construction materials. Unsurprisingly, his trip to the factory also inflicted damage on public roads.
After his path of destruction, the man moved on to the facility's production line — the final stage, to be precise. His main goal was to gain entry into the robotic assembly line — where fewer human employees are needed, and layoffs are likely. But security guards stopped him before he could demolish the robotic line.
Increased factory automation, mass layoffs
If the man and his hijacked bulldozer had made it to his target and destroyed the assembly line, it's likely the factory would have shut down for weeks to repair the carnage. No one but a small maintenance team was working when the man and the bulldozer came to work, so no injuries were sustained.
The man was subsequently arrested and will probably face charges of multiple crimes — including theft, destruction of private and public property. As of writing, he's waiting for a court date in the local jail, where formal charges will later be levied.
The German automaker has yet to speak on the incident, but the bulldozing man's actions probably won't change executive-level decisions to move forward with mass layoffs.
As major automakers like Tesla and Mercedes increasingly automate vehicle construction, corporate profits could rise to unprecedented levels — partially at the expense of former employees. But while rampaging through a factory in a hijacked bulldozer is not the answer to robotic automation policies, there will likely be many more workers who feel displaced as the economy enters the fourth industrial revolution.