Tesla, a US manufacturer of electric cars, is facing union opposition in various countries. In Sweden, workers from different sectors have come together to boycott the company. This has resulted in the halt of unloading of Tesla’s electric cars in Swedish ports and the failure to repair charging stations and clean showrooms. According to reports, the company no longer even receives its mail in Sweden.
The conflict is not just about wages but also about basic principles. Tesla refuses collective agreements that cover 90% of employees in Sweden and are considered a cornerstone. When mechanics went on strike to force the conclusion of a collective agreement, the company allegedly tried to fly in strikebreakers from other countries. The union responded by spreading the conflict to other industries.
Tesla is also struggling with unions in Germany where there is no collective agreement at the Grünheide plant in Brandenburg. The IG Metall union identifies “an extreme workload” and “serious deficiencies” in safety at the plant. Moreover, Tesla is trying to hinder union organization at the plant.
This conflict between Tesla and unions is reminiscent of the one with Toys “R” Us, which expanded to Sweden in 1995 and refused to conclude a collective agreement. After three months of industrial action involving commercial employees and other unions, the company gave in and signed the collective agreement.