Tesla, a US manufacturer of electric cars, is facing resistance from workers and unions in both Sweden and Germany. In Sweden, a boycott by workers from various sectors has resulted in Tesla no longer having its electric cars unloaded in Swedish ports and charging stations not being repaired. This is due to the company’s refusal to sign collective agreements that cover 90% of employees and are considered a cornerstone in Swedish labor law.
The conflict between Tesla and Swedish workers began when mechanics went on strike to demand a collective agreement. The company attempted to bring in strikebreakers from other countries, which led the union to spread the conflict to other industries. According to Torbjorn Johansson from the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, “Anyone who comes to Sweden has to follow the rules,” and this also applies to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla.
In Germany, Tesla is also struggling with its union at its Grünheide plant in Brandenburg. The IG Metall union has identified “an extreme workload” and “serious deficiencies” in safety at the plant. Additionally, the union has accused Tesla of trying to hinder their organization efforts.
This conflict between Tesla and workers/unions is reminiscent of a similar struggle with Toys “R” Us that expanded into Sweden in 1995 and refused to sign a collective agreement. After three months of industrial action involving commercial employees and other unions, the company finally signed the collective agreement.