Elon Musk’s Sweden labor fight to hit Tesla charging stations


For the past several months, Tesla has been locked in a battle of wills with the labor unions of Sweden. The company’s decision not to ratify a collective bargaining agreement with a small number of workers associated with the Swedish union IF Metall has led to boycotts by other regional unions, turning what could have been a quickly resolved dispute into an ongoing disaster for the electric car company.

This week, yet another humiliation was visited upon the firm: An additional labor union has decided to take action against the car manufacturer, and this time the end result could be the stifling of Tesla charging stations throughout the country. The Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees, or Seko, published a statement Wednesday, announcing it would be initiating a “sympathy” action against Tesla over its anti-union policies:

“IF Metall’s fight is also our fight. By refusing to comply with the rules of the game here in Sweden, Tesla is trying to gain a competitive advantage by giving the workers worse wages and conditions than they would have with a collective agreement. It is of course completely unacceptable. The fight that IF Metall is now taking is important for the entire Swedish collective agreement model. That is why we have chosen to issue another sympathy notice and increase the pressure on Tesla.”

The impact here could be bad for Tesla, as Seko, which does important electrical work throughout the country, has promised to halt all “planning, preparation, new connections, network expansion, service, maintenance and repairs regarding all of the car brand Tesla’s charging stations in Sweden.” Elektrek has noted that the move could stop the launch of all new Tesla Superchargers within the country.

Over the past several months, unions throughout Sweden and other parts of Europe have banded together to protect Scandinavia’s labor model from Tesla’s attempted disruption. So-called “sympathy” actions or strikes are a method by which unions not directly connected to a particular conflict can express their support and put pressure on an offending company. As a result, Tesla’s headquarters in Sweden have been subjected to a number of actions. Dock workers, electricians, postal workers, and even garbage collectors have all abandoned the company’s offices, causing serious issues for the company.

Teslas CEO Elon Musk’s anti-union stance is particularly pronounced, even among his peers. He has repeatedly expressed his disdain for collective bargaining and has said of organized labor: “I just don’t like anything which creates kind of a lords and peasants sort of thing.”

This article originally appeared on Gizmodo.


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