Tesla has won a small battle against Swedish union workers fighting for collective bargaining rights, but the battle will continue.
A Swedish court ruled Monday that the country’s transportation authority must get Tesla its license plates, which have been blocked by striking postal workers, or pay, the Aftonbladet newspaper report. Workers at PostNord, Sweden’s postal authority, have stopped delivering plates for Tesla’s new cars in an attempt to force Tesla to sign a collective bargaining agreement for the country’s mechanics.
The decision came within hours of Tesla filing a suit against the Swedish Transport Agency and state-run PostNord. Tesla said it sued the agency because the denial of access to the registration plates “constitutes an unlawful discriminatory attack directed at Tesla.”
In response to the swift ruling in Tesla’s favor, CEO Elon Musk posted X thanking the country.
The decision is a blow to the Swedish labor movement, which relies on strong national support for collective bargaining agreements. More than 90% of the workforce have collective bargaining rights, and the system has led to a relatively peaceful industrial model with far fewer strikes from wages.
That’s starting to change with Tesla’s addition. The automaker does not make cars in Sweden, but it has workshops to service the cars there. In mid-November, Tesla rejected a request from 130 mechanics to collective bargaining, so they are preparing to strike. Other Swedish unions in various sectors have come out of union. Postal and delivery workers, cleaners, car painters and dock workers have all refused to work on Tesla products, and a taxi company in Stockholm stopped buying new Teslas for his fleet.
PostNord workers joined the fight on November 20, and the transport agency refused to deliver the plates in another way because it was contracted to use PostNord.
The Norrköping district court said that the agency must find a way to remove Tesla’s plates within seven days or pay a fine of 1 million Swedish crowns (~$96,000).
The district court, the transportation agency and Tesla could not immediately be reached for comment.
This is not the end of Sweden’s fight against Tesla. The trade union IF Metall put mechanics on strike on October 27 and refused to service Tesla cars after years of calls to Tesla to engage in collective bargaining talks went unanswered. Tesla is notoriously anti-union and has a policy of not signing collective bargaining agreements. The automaker says its employees have good, if not better, terms than those demanded by IF Metall.
Meanwhile in the US, the United Auto Workers union is on strike against the Detroit Big Three automakers – Stellantis, Ford and General Motors – and recently reached a deal with all three at great expense to automakers.