Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, chief engineer of SpaceX and CTO of X, takes the stage during The New York Times’ annual DealBook Summit on November 29, 2023 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Tesla’s troubles with unions in Scandinavia deepened when the company lost legal action against the Swedish Postal Service over its refusal to provide license plates to the U.S. electric vehicle giant.

Postal service workers blocked the delivery of Tesla license plates late last month in an expression of solidarity with striking mechanics over the company’s refusal to sign a collective agreement with employees, a common practice in Sweden.

Tesla has taken legal action, with CEO Elon Musk calling the move “crazy,” but a Swedish court ruled on Thursday that PostNord will not be forced to deliver license plates for now.

Perhaps more worrisome for Musk, however, will be the sympathy strikes spreading across Scandinavia as other unions rally their support behind the region’s deep-rooted principle of collective bargaining as the linchpin of industrial relations.

Union members from numerous Swedish industries have joined the secondary strike action with members of the IF Metall union, which has been embroiled in an ongoing battle with Tesla for about six weeks.

Earlier this week, Denmark’s largest union announced its own sympathy strike to prevent Tesla cars from being delivered to Danish ports and transported to Sweden.

Norway’s largest private sector union then announced on Wednesday its intention to block vehicle deliveries to Sweden from December 20.

The strikes then spread further to the Nordic region as the Finnish transport workers’ union AKT confirmed on Thursday that a blockade against Tesla vehicles destined for Sweden would also come into force in all Finnish ports from December 20.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, AKT chairman Ismo Kokko said collective agreements for workers are “an essential part of the Nordic labor market system.”

Meanwhile, one of Denmark’s largest pension funds announced on Wednesday that it would sell its stake in Tesla shares as the US company refused to enter into agreements with unions. According to Reuters, PensionDanmark sold the shares at a market value of 476 million Danish crowns ($68.8 million).

PensionDanmark told CNBC on Friday that its approach to responsible investing is “based on international conventions and agreements, including the ILO conventions on labor rights.”

“If a company does not comply with our guidelines, we first try to influence the company through active participation – both directly and in coordination with other shareholders. This was also the case in connection with Tesla,” the pension fund said in an emailed statement.

If the Fund determines that it is unable to exercise sufficient influence over a company, as was the case with Tesla, it may decide to exclude that company’s shares from its holdings.

“Given the fact that the conflict is now spreading to Denmark, as well as Tesla’s recent very categorical refusal to sign an agreement in any country, we have come to the conclusion that we as investors currently have little ability to influence the company. And that’s why we are now adding Tesla to our exclusion list,” PensionDanmark added.

Tesla’s policy of no collective bargaining runs into a broad ideological stalemate – such agreements between employers and employees serve as a linchpin for Scandinavian economic models that guarantee workers the right to bargain over wages, vacation, overtime pay and other conditions.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Source : www.cnbc.com

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