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A Tesla win will undermine industrial relations across Sweden, union warns after court ruling favours firm

SWEDISH union IF Metall warned today that a victory for Tesla in its attempt to deny workers a collective bargaining agreement would threaten the entire model of industrial relations in the country.

Tesla scored an interim win in the courts on Monday evening. A lawsuit alleging discrimination  — because postal workers taking secondary action in solidarity with striking Tesla employees were refusing to deliver licence plates — secured an interim ruling that Tesla could collect the licence plates from the Swedish Transport Agency itself.

But post is just one sector in which solidarity action with IF Metall members working as mechanics or salespeople for Tesla is taking place, with dockers also refusing to unload Tesla vehicles.

IF Metall president Marie Nilssen told the Financial Times that “if Tesla shows it’s possible to operate in Sweden without a collective agreement, then other companies could be tempted to do the same.”

Sweden won a derogation from an EU minimum wage directive its unions opposed for undermining collective bargaining rights, exempting countries where collective bargaining agreements cover over 80 per cent of the workforce. 

Unions are keen to maintain the dominance of collective bargaining structures in wage negotiations in the country, with over 90 per cent of workers covered.

IF Metall explains: “The collective agreements are negotiated by industry and the employees are guaranteed the wages and working conditions that are standard within the entire sector. 

“This enables companies to operate on a level playing field, while avoiding the risk of any individual employer distorting competition within the industry through poor conditions for its employees.”

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