July 16, 2024

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Tesla Is Suing Sweden | WIRED

2 min read

Tesla is suing Sweden as the carmaker hits back at an attempt by local unions to disrupt its business in an ongoing battle over workers’ rights.

In the lawsuit, filed Monday, Tesla says it is suing “the Swedish state through the Swedish Transport Agency” because local union members were refusing to deliver new license plates to the company, effectively blocking Tesla from selling new cars in the country. In a quick decision, the Norrköping district court said the company should be allowed to circumvent existing rules and collect its license plates itself. The Swedish Transport Agency has 14 days to respond to the decision.

Swedish unions describe their fight against Tesla as existential for the Swedish labor market. Sweden doesn’t have laws that dictate workers’ rights, such as minimum wage. Instead, around 90 percent of Swedish workers are covered by collective agreements, a type of contract that regulates the relationship between employers and their employees, including pay, pensions, and working hours. Tesla’s refusal to sign a collective agreement with its mechanics has enraged union bosses, who are worried the company could set a precedent.

“It’s the whole system that is at stake,” says Tommy Wreeth, chairman of the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, whose members are refusing to unload Tesla cargo at Swedish ports. “That’s why all Swedish unions see this as a crucial fight.”

License plates stopped being delivered to Tesla when Seko, the Swedish union representing postal workers, joined a countrywide blockade against the company on November 20. Seko said its members would not deliver post, parcels, or pallets to Tesla until it signed a collective agreement with Swedish car mechanics, who have been on strike since October 27. Tesla filed a separate lawsuit against the Nordic postal service PostNord in an attempt to get the company to release its packages.

The lawsuits are part of a growing crisis in Sweden, with more unions joining action against Tesla. The revolt started with the union representing the mechanics, IF Metall, but other Swedish unions have since introduced “sympathy measures” in an attempt to force the company to sign. Swedish cleaners are refusing to clean Tesla showrooms, electricians won’t fix the company’s charging points, and dockworkers are refusing to unload Tesla cargo at Swedish ports.

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