#186 Sparks are flying for Tesla in Sweden

With 10 million population, Sweden is a relatively small market for foreign entrants. But with an impressively high adoption rate of new technologies – 60 percent of all new vehicle sales in 2023 have been electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrids – it is not one to neglect for companies like Tesla. Besides, the Swedish market has a halo effect on other Scandinavian countries. While Tesla doesn’t manufacture in Sweden, it is therefore not surprising that the company that was started in the US in 2003 has set up several service centers with about 130 technicians in that Nordic country. Things went smoothly in the beginning, but in 2023, a dispute over the establishment of a collective bargaining agreement between IF Metall, one of Scandinavia’s largest labor unions for blue-collar workers, led to the walk out of about 50 Tesla workers who are members of the union. Tesla reacted in a way that is rather unusual for Europe when it hired strike-breaking temporary workers. One might think that this was the end of it. However, other unions joined forces with IF Metall and disrupted deliveries to Tesla. Anything from mail to parts to license plates and imported Teslas was blocked by other unions – not only in Sweden, but also by unions in other countries who joined in on the opposition. The UAW in the United States whose coffers are filled with cash to support sustained labor action is taking notice with much interest, which might spell trouble for Tesla around the world. Tesla maintains that it complies with labor laws in all countries (but has chosen to neglect local labor customs).

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