Sweden’s Tesla boycott snowballs as more workers join the strike

Today more unions in Sweden are joining Tesla’s mechanics in the strike against the notoriously anti-union EV automaker. Dockworkers in Sweden won’t be unloading any Tesla vehicles, maintenance crews won’t be cleaning up Tesla stores, and broken Superchargers won’t get repaired. Next week, even Tesla mail won’t be delivered.

For a country with only a relative few Tesla employees, Sweden has become a thorn in Elon Musk’s side. As the existential battle of wills heats up, thousands of workers are refusing to deal with Telsa in any way until it signs an agreement with the country’s Tesla mechanics. The strike originally started when workers at seven repair shops staged a walkout but has rapidly picked up steam.

The Swedish Transport Workers’ Union said it would block all Tesla vehicles at all of the country’s ports starting today if Telsa didn’t sign the collective bargaining agreement with IF Metall, which represents some of the Tesla mechanics among its 300,000 members. The Swedish Transport Workers’ Union represents 57,000 workers in the country. That boycott started with four Swedish ports on November 7 but has expanded to all of the country’s ports today. IF Metall members have been striking since October 27

Additionally, the Swedish Building Maintenance Workers’ Union is calling a strike as of noon local time today, refusing to clean the handful of Tesla retail or service centers around the country. Even the post office is apparently joining the fight, saying they will stop delivering mail to Tesla if it doesn’t sign the deal by November 20.

Tesla first entered Sweden in 2013 and has said that it follows Swedish labor market rules. However, Tesla says it chooses not to sign a collective agreement because it doesn’t have a manufacturing plant in Sweden.

Unions are an essential part of the Swedish labor model, with about 90% of the workforce belonging to trade unions and protected by employee contracts that work to standardize pay, insurance, and pensions, as well as protect worker conditions.

Elon Musk is also facing a union bid in Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory, one of six such plants worldwide and its only factory in Europe. In the US, Tesla has so far been successful at stifling union drives on its own home turf, but with Europe putting up a bigger fight, all eyes are on what will happen in Sweden – and that includes the United Auto Workers.

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