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Unions: The new Viking saga

The Tesla strike in Sweden goes on with Sweden’s biggest union, Unionen, backing IF Metall which has been in dispute with Tesla for almost six months over the company’s refusal to sign a collective agreement. 

An escalation: Last week, Unionen began a blockade on Tuesday affecting all work for Tesla at DEKRA Industrial AB, which conducts equipment inspections. Martin Wastfeldt, head of negotiations at Unionen, told Reuters: "It is fundamentally important to protect our collective agreement system,"  Wastfeldt said Unionen was prepared to do more if Tesla seeks to circumvent the blockade by hiring other providers. 

The bottom line: Tesla says its employees in Sweden no not need a collective agreement, as they have as good, or better, terms than those the union is demanding. Its global position is that it does not recognise unions. Losing this battle in Sweden, could open the door to unions elsewhere. IG Metall in Germany did very well in recent works council elections in Tesla, and while it did not win a majority on the council, it has a large, cohesive bloc which will allow it to exert significant influence.

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Authors: Tom Hayes

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