Swedish labour union to stop collecting Tesla waste

By Louise Rasmussen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Sweden’s Transport Workers’ Union said on Wednesday it would stop collecting waste at Tesla’s workshops in Sweden, joining a wave of action by labour groups aimed at pressuring the automaker into accepting collective bargaining rights for staff.

The electric carmaker faces a backlash in the Nordic region from unions and some pension funds over its refusal to accept a demand from Swedish mechanics for collective bargaining covering wages and other conditions.

Dockworkers, drivers, electricians, postal employees and cleaners are refusing to service Tesla in sympathy with striking mechanics.

“This type of sympathy action is very rare. We are using it now to protect the Swedish collective agreements and the safety of the Swedish labour market model,” President of the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, Tommy Wreeth, said in a statement.

“Tesla can’t ignore the norm on the Swedish labour market,” he added.

The strike will begin on Dec. 24 unless Tesla signs a collective bargaining agreement with Swedish union IF Metall, the Transport Workers’ Union said.

In a legal setback for Tesla, a Swedish court of appeal said it had overturned a ruling that allowed the company to collect licence plates directly from the manufacturer, sending the case back to a lower court for renewed examination.

The U.S. car maker has sought the court’s permission to collect the licence plates from the producer in order to circumvent Swedish postal workers blocking the delivery.

Tesla, which has revolutionised the electric car market, says its Swedish employees have as good or better terms than those the union is demanding.

The carmaker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Norway’s $1.5 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest stock market investor and Tesla’s 7th biggest owner, last week said it would continue to push the U.S. automaker to respect labour rights including collective bargaining.

(Reporting by Louise Breusch RasmussenEditing by Terje Solsvik and Mark Potter)