On Friday, dockworkers and electricians throughout Sweden joined the growing campaign by labour unions in the nation to put pressure on Tesla to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with its mechanics.
Three weeks after the autoworkers’ union, IF Metall, declared a strike against Tesla in an attempt to obtain a collective agreement over wages and working conditions for its approximately 120 members who are mechanics for the electric vehicle manufacturer, the labour action grew. In the most recent action, which demonstrated the strength of organised labour in a nation where nine out of ten workers are covered by collective agreements, dockworkers at dozens of ports refused to unload cars from ships and electricians halted repair work at the company’s charging stations.
Tesla in Sweden: No production but many sales
Although it does not manufacture any cars in Sweden, Tesla maintains multiple service centres there. According to Mobility Sweden, an industry group, the Tesla Model Y is currently the best-selling new car in Sweden, having been registered more than 14,000 times as of October.
A Tesla representative told Swedish media at the beginning of the mechanics’ strike that the company complied with national labour laws and had made the decision not to sign a collective bargaining agreement. The business promised to make every effort to maintain operations.
Quotable: ‘It is both important and obvious that we help.’
According to a statement from the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, “it is both important and obvious that we help, to stand up for the collective agreement and the Swedish labour market model.” Members of the union are employed at Sweden’s docks.
How It Started: Mechanics at Tesla went on strike on Oct. 27
Talks with company representatives ended without a resolution, according to IF Metall, which represents 300,000 workers in Sweden, including some of Tesla’s mechanics, in late October. On October 27, the union started a walkout at Tesla’s twelve service centres.
Beginning on November 7 at four major Swedish ports, dockworkers initially refused to unload any Teslas; on Friday, this refusal was extended to 55 ports.
Additionally, cleaners’ unions have declined to provide maintenance for Tesla establishments, and the postal workers’ union has halted deliveries to the company’s locations.
Tesla has managed to get around the strikes, as acknowledged by both IF Metall and the Transport Workers’ Union. They claimed that Tesla was hiring more mechanics to staff its facilities and that new cars were being transported by truck into Sweden.
According to Swedish media, some union members who work for Tesla have hindered the strike efforts by refusing to join.
What Other Unions Say: Germans have voiced support
Union leaders are working to organise the roughly 11,500 workers at Tesla’s gigafactory outside of Berlin, where the Model Y is produced in Germany. The management of Tesla has not communicated with IG Metall, the German autoworkers’ union. A number of hundred labourers displayed union stickers last month advocating for “safe and fair work.”
The regional manager of IG Metall in Brandenburg, where Tesla maintains a factory, Dirk Schulze, has stated his support for the striking Swedish workers. According to a statement from Mr. Schulze, the strike in Sweden has given German workers “the courage and confidence to organise themselves into a union and take their fate into their own hands.”
No new actions have been announced by the union.
What Happens Next: More strikes are planned in Sweden
This week, IF Metall announced that 50 of its staff members at Hydro Extrusions, a business that makes an aluminium part for Tesla, would quit their jobs on Friday of next week.