Tesla is in a societal dilemma. The car manufacturer refuses to enter into a collective agreement in Sweden. On October 27, 130 employees went on strike at seven Tesla workshops in Sweden. It seems that the fronts have reached a dead end, and on Tuesday the strike was intensified. Members of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions expressed their willingness to prevent the possible import of “Swedish” Tesla cars through Norwegian ports.
“Tesla is a union enemy trying to create American conditions in Europe. They should not get away with it,” says Jørn Eggum, leader of the Fellesforbundet band. The Swedish trade union IF Metall is demanding Tesla enter into a collective agreement, but the company has so far refused. The policy is Tesla Group refuses to enter into such agreements with labor unions.
According to Tesla Roasters in Sweden, their conditions are worse than others in the industry. They work eight more days a year than their competitors, and have a lower pension and insurance system. But Tesla has a different version. “We are already offering deals equal to or better than those covered by collective bargaining and we see no reason to sign any other agreement,” said a statement from the company, which also confirms that Tesla follows Swedish labor market regulations.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk needs to turn around
Tesla owner Elon Musk doesn’t like unions. Tesla has 120,000 employees around the world, and the company has not entered into collective bargaining agreements anywhere. But now Musk is getting to know IF Metal’s muscles. The strikers at Tesla’s Swedish workshops should be congratulated for putting up a fight. Musk will notice that his Norwegian colleagues stand in solidarity with him if he tries to break the strike.
In this regard, it is interesting to note that there are bright spots in the United States as well. Recent major strikes in the US auto industry have led to positive results for the workers in the factories involved. 40,000 workers at auto plants belonging to General Motors, Ford and Stellantis received a strong pay increase. Tesla’s factories, on the other hand, have survived “on the cheap,” as there are no labor unions here that can put force behind demands and possibly strike to reach an agreement.
Companies in Norway as in Sweden can of course choose not to enter into a collective agreement with employees. But then companies must be prepared to enable employees to use their right to strike if they wish to enter into a collective agreement. The high degree of organisation, both among employees and among employers, is an important success factor for the Nordic social model. This provides economic growth, increased productivity and mutual trust, and not least good wages and working conditions. Hopefully, the strike in Sweden will make Tesla management think better. Elon Musk needs to step back out of trouble.
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