Swedish port workers, electricians and cleaners pledge to join strike against Tesla

TT/AFP/The Local
TT/AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Swedish port workers, electricians and cleaners pledge to join strike against Tesla
Labour union representatives blocking any potential Tesla imports at Malmö harbour. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Workers at Swedish ports blocked the unloading and loading of Tesla cars on Tuesday while cleaners and electricians threatened to join the strike against the company for its refusal to sign a collective agreement.


Swedish Transport Workers' (Transport) union members at ports in Malmö, Södertälje, Gothenburg and Trelleborg launched their sympathy strike against the US car company on Tuesday, as the union announced the strike will expand to cover all Swedish ports on November 17th.

"We have received signals that Tesla cars are planned for other Swedish harbours and we are now closing that possibility completely," Transport union chief told AFP.

"No Swedish port worker is going to touch a Tesla," central ombudsman for Transport, Anders Gustafsson, told TT newswire. "Our goal is that no Tesla will be loaded or unloaded in Sweden."

Around lunchtime, two car transporters had arrived in Malmö port. They were only unloaded once elected officials from Transport had completed an inspection and confirmed there were no Teslas on board.

"They've decided not to send any," Gustafsson said.

Last week, metalworkers' union IF Metall's strike against Tesla began.

Around 130 mechanics at ten Tesla workshops in seven cities across Sweden are on strike, the union said, with a further 470 workers at other workshops refusing to work on Tesla cars as a sympathy strike.

The strike has broken out due to the car company's refusal to meet IF Metall's demands. The union wants it to sign a collective bargaining agreement for its mechanics.


According to IF Metall, Tesla will not sign a collective bargaining agreement, as they "don't do that anywhere in the world".

Tesla has until recently refused to comment on the conflict, but made a written statement to TT on Tuesday morning.

"It is unfortunate that IF Metall has adopted these measures," Tesla Sweden representatives said.

"Tesla follows the rules of the Swedish labour market, but has, like many other companies, decided not to sign a collective bargaining agreement. We already offer equal or better contracts than those covered by collective bargaining agreements and see no reason to sign any other agreement."

The Swedish Building Maintenance Workers union, Fastighets, has also announced that it will join the strike on November 17th, promising to block all work related to Tesla – including cleaning – at company offices in Huddinge, Segeltorp, Umeå and Upplands Väsby.

"This issue is at the foundation of our successful Swedish model," Fastighets' head of negotiations Joakim Oscarsson wrote in a comment to TT. "For us, there is no doubt about it. If you are active in Sweden, you should have a collective bargaining agreement."

Elektrikerna, the Swedish Electricians' Union, also announced on Tuesday that it would join the strike, refusing to carry out service or repairs at Tesla's twelve workshops or over 200 charging stations in Sweden.

"If something breaks, no one will fix it," the union wrote.

Work is still ongoing at many of Tesla's service centres. IF Metall considers this to count as strikebreaking, and has therefore requested that other Swedish Trade Union Confederation member unions join the strike.

The Swedish Trade Union Confederation is an umbrella organisation comprised of 14 member unions with around 1.4 million members. Its member unions include building workers, electricians, building maintenance workers, workers in media, forestry and woodworking, commercial employees, hotel and restaurant workers, metalworkers, municipal workers, food workers, painters, paper workers, service and communication employees, musicians and transport workers.


Tesla has stated that its customers come first.

"During this period, we are firmly committed to remaining available to our customers," it wrote.

Tesla told TT that it was open for dialogue with IF Metall, but no new negotiations have been scheduled.

On Monday, the union said meetings with Tesla had resulted in a "stalemate". Tesla founder and chief Elon Musk has consistently rejected calls to allow the company's 127,000 employees worldwide to unionise.


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