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Why a Swedish metalworkers' union is taking Tesla to court

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Why a Swedish metalworkers' union is taking Tesla to court
The Swedish metalworkers' union has been on strike at Tesla since October. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sweden's metalworkers' union, which is still striking in a row over Tesla's lack over a collective bargaining agreement, is now taking the carmaker to court over its refusal to disclose its financial health.

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Tomas With, vice-president of IF Metall, told AFP that the necessary documents were ready and would be filed with the court next week at the latest.

According to the union, Swedish law dictates that companies need to keep unions regularly informed about their financial situation.

Employers who have not signed a collective agreement – which is the case for the American giant – must still inform the unions who have members working for them.

In late October, IF Metall launched a strike against Tesla over its refusal to sign a collective wage agreement, and some 130 mechanics at 10 Tesla repair shops in seven cities walked off the job.

IF Metall then extended the strike to include work on Teslas at other repair shops which served multiple brands.

The strike has since grown into a larger conflict between Tesla and almost a dozen unions seeking to protect Sweden's labour model, including postal workers, dock workers and even spreading to neighbouring Nordic countries.

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Since March, IF Metall has been organising meetings with Tesla's Swedish repair shops to obtain information about the company's financial affairs.

"In recent months, management has generally emphasised the need to make savings ... 'Will they reduce the number of employees or not?'" With asked.

While most of the workshops provided this information, one in Uppsala, north of Stockholm, refused, arguing that it was in conflict with IF Metall.

Negotiated sector by sector, collective agreements with unions are the basis of the Nordic labour market model.

Guaranteeing wages and working conditions, they cover almost 90 percent of all employees in Sweden and 80 percent in Denmark.

Despite the fact that many of Tesla's employees in Sweden are union members, they cannot benefit from the collective bargaining agreements unless Tesla signs on to them.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has long rejected calls to allow the company's 127,000 employees worldwide to unionise.

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