Morgan Meaker of Wired reports that unions claim Tesla is failing to play by Swedish labor rules. Now, a strike that started with mechanics is beginning to spread. She writes:
Dock workers in Sweden are threatening to block deliveries of new Teslas entering the country, in the most serious labor dispute the company has faced in Europe to date.
Teslas arrive into Sweden via four ports, Malmö, Gothenburg, Trelleborg, and Södertälje, according to the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, which represents 57,000 workers in the transport industry and has threatened the blockade. It’s planned to start on November 7, and if it goes ahead, “no Teslas will be able to enter Sweden,” says union chairman Tommy Wreeth.
Workers at the port do not work directly for Tesla. The union’s members are threatening the blockade in support of workers at Tesla’s Swedish repair shops, who do work for Tesla and who have been on strike since last Friday. They walked off the job to protest the company’s refusal to sign a collective agreement with the union that represents them, IF Metall.
In Sweden, collective agreements regulate the relationship between employers and their employees, including terms of pay, pensions, working conditions, and other benefits. It’s not mandatory for a company to sign a collective agreement, but it is convention. Around 90 percent of Swedish employees are covered by these arrangements.
“We would like our members working at Tesla to have the same benefits as basically everybody else on the Swedish labor market,” says Jesper Pettersson, spokesperson for IF Metall. “We don’t see any reason why Tesla should play by different rules.” […]
Tesla workers in the US have made several failed attempts to unionize. In April, the US National Labor Relations Board ruled that the company violated local labor law by telling employees not to discuss pay and other working conditions or bring complaints to managers. The IG Metall union in Germany has also expressed concern about safety and overwork at the carmaker’s only European Gigafactory, near Berlin.
“The electric vehicle is a symbol of the whole green transition, and it’s a big irony that Tesla is refusing to engage in the social dimension of the big transition that we’re going through,” says Claes Mikael Ståhl, deputy general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, a nonprofit that represents workers across the EU.
Workers outside Sweden will be watching closely to see how this dispute develops, says Ståhl. “I think it will be inspiring for unions in other countries to see this, because I think that the Swedish union will be successful in the long run.”
Read more here.