Saturday, June 15, 2024

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    swedish workers to widen strike action against Tesla

    Unions in Sweden are escalating their efforts to compel Tesla to engage in collective bargaining for its mechanics, signaling a broader defense of the nation’s labor model, which is widely regarded as a cornerstone of Sweden’s economic prosperity and societal stability.

    The dockworkers’ union announced plans to extend their blockade of Tesla’s shipments to all Swedish ports next week, an expansion of the initial action that began at four major locations. The electricians’ union has also declared that its members will cease maintenance of Tesla charging stations, while maintenance workers have vowed not to clean Tesla facilities.

    This collective action follows the breakdown of discussions between Tesla and the IF Metall trade union, which represents 300,000 workers, including the 120 Tesla mechanics. The strike, which began on October 27 at Tesla’s 12 service centers, has not yet prompted a resolution.

    Tesla, which has been operating in Sweden since 2013, has not signed a collective bargaining agreement, despite adhering to Swedish labor rules. The company asserts that its existing agreements are on par with, or superior to, those that would be established through collective bargaining.

    Despite the ongoing strike, operations at a Tesla facility near Stockholm seemed unaffected, with customers seen attending to their vehicles. The union suspects Tesla of employing outside workers to substitute for the striking staff, a claim that remains unverified.

    The labor dispute has elicited mixed reactions from Tesla owners, with some expressing indifference, suggesting that the decision to sign a collective bargaining agreement should be left to the company.

    The unions backing IF Metall’s campaign are not only advocating for better conditions for Tesla’s mechanics but are also striving to protect Sweden’s traditional labor system. This system, which encompasses about 90 percent of the Swedish workforce, is predicated on collaborative negotiations between employers and employees to determine fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.

    The Swedish Transport Workers’ Union has been particularly vocal, with its leader emphasizing the broader implications for the Swedish labor model. The union has already initiated a blockade against Tesla’s shipments and plans to intensify these measures if an agreement is not reached by November 17.

    Tesla‘s CEO, Elon Musk, has historically opposed unionization efforts among his global workforce. However, Swedish unions maintain that Tesla’s employees are missing out on the benefits typically afforded through collective agreements, such as annual wage increases and insurance coverage.

    The electricians’ union has warned that from November 17, they will not attend to any servicing needs at Tesla’s charging stations across Sweden. Similarly, cleaning staff at Tesla’s facilities have announced plans to abstain from work starting on the same date.

    The movement has garnered support beyond union circles, with Taxi Stockholm halting orders of Teslas for its fleet in solidarity with the collective agreement system.

    As the standoff intensifies, the unions’ actions reflect a steadfast commitment to preserving the integrity of Sweden’s labor model, a sentiment echoed by union members who question why such measures were not implemented sooner.

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