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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Tesla Takes Legal Action Against Swedish Transport Agency Amid Escalating Labor Strikes

Tesla has initiated legal proceedings against Sweden’s Transport Agency over a postal worker strike causing a backlog in license plate deliveries for Tesla cars. This marks the latest development in an escalating conflict between Swedish labor unions and the U.S.-based electric vehicle manufacturer.

Approximately a month ago, mechanics at seven Tesla-owned repair shops in Sweden went on strike, demanding that Tesla sign a collective bargaining agreement with the mechanics’ union, IF Metall. Since then, workers from various industries across Sweden, including dockworkers, electricians, painters, and postal employees, have joined the labor action. The goal is to pressure Tesla into agreeing to the collective bargaining terms.

The strike gained momentum when postal workers joined on Nov. 20, refusing to deliver any mail or packages, including license plates, to Tesla’s facilities. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, publicly criticized the widespread strikes, referring to them as “insane” in a post on X (formerly Twitter). While Sweden represents a relatively small market for Tesla, its Model Y is a top-selling electric vehicle in the country.

In response to the ongoing strikes and license plate delivery issues, Tesla filed complaints against the Transport Agency and the postal company, PostNord. The legal action argues that Tesla employees should be allowed to pick up license plates directly from the agency, bypassing the postal workers.

According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press, Tesla claims that the agency has a “constitutional obligation to provide license plates to vehicle owners.” The company alleges that withholding license plates is a unique attack on its operations in Sweden. The lawsuit calls for a 1 million kronor (approximately $95,400) fine against the agency unless it permits Tesla to retrieve license plates within three days of the court’s decision.

Mikael Andersson, a spokesman for the Transport Agency, countered Tesla’s view, stating that the agency does not believe it is failing to meet its obligation to produce license plates for newly registered vehicles in Sweden. However, due to the involvement of postal workers in the strike, license plates are not being delivered to Tesla, leading to the legal dispute.

Tesla has not responded to requests for comment on the matter.

Later on Monday, a report from the Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet quoted Tesla’s lawyer, Johannes Ericson, stating that the Norrköping District Court had ruled in Tesla’s favor. The court reportedly ordered the agency to provide the plates directly to the manufacturer on an interim basis. As of now, neither the court nor Mr. Ericson has confirmed these reports.

Sweden has a strong tradition of organized labor, and the right to strike is protected by the country’s constitution. This allows unions in one sector to enlist support from unions representing workers in other professions to stage targeted actions against a company. Over the past month, hundreds of workers across various industries in Sweden have united under IF Metall to pressure Tesla into engaging in negotiations.

Tesla, with over 127,000 employees worldwide, has consistently resisted efforts by its workforce to organize. The company’s stance on unionization has been a point of contention, leading to increased tensions and labor actions globally.

David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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