June 23, 2024

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Tesla sues Swedish state in effort to circumvent union action

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Tesla is suing the Swedish state in an attempt to circumvent strikes and union action that have crippled its operations in the Scandinavian country.

The carmaker is suing the Swedish Transport Agency to allow it to collect registration plates for new vehicles directly rather than have to receive them via post — which postal workers have been blocking in a sympathy action with striking Tesla workshop mechanics, a move Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has called “insane”.

The lawsuit, filed with Norrköping district court on Monday, demanded that “the registration plates for the vehicles that Tesla owns . . . come into Tesla’s possession”, according to a copy seen by the Financial Times.

The lawsuit is an escalation of Tesla’s anger with the Swedish strike and a broadening number of sympathy actions taken by other workers that is increasingly hurting the electric-car maker’s business there.

About 130 mechanics in Sweden, who belong to the IF Metall union, went on strike last month after Tesla turned down their request for collective bargaining.

Swedish unions argue that Tesla needs to sign a collective agreement as almost all businesses in the country do, meaning that wages and working conditions are set jointly in negotiations between unions and employer organisations.

Postal workers who deliver spare parts and registration plates, cleaners who clean Tesla’s dealerships, and dockworkers unloading their cars have all since refused to work with the US brand. 

Musk is a staunch critic of unionisation, and has managed to avoid collective bargaining in its global operations, including in Germany where it opened a factory.

Tesla has no manufacturing in Sweden but the strike is starting to have an impact after a factory that manufactures parts for Tesla stopped production on Friday in sympathy with the strikes. 

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2023-11-27 09:20:39

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