Norway union to join growing Tesla blockade supporting Swedish union

The port of Malmo, Sweden, where dockworkers are blocking the transit of Tesla cars. (Getty Images)


OSLO — Norway’s largest private sector labor union said on Wednesday it would later this month start blocking transit shipments of Tesla cars meant for the Swedish market, as part of a growing Nordic movement to support striking mechanics in Sweden.

Swedish unions led by IF Metall have taken action against Tesla since October to try to force the U.S. electric vehicle maker to sign collective bargaining agreements with mechanics.

Dockworkers in Sweden already refuse to unload Tesla cars arriving by ship, and broad groups of Swedish electricians, cleaners, postal workers and at least one maker of auto components also said they would deny the company their services. Even the prime minister has chided Tesla for refusing to join a collective bargaining agreement; Tesla CEO Elon Musk is stridently opposed to unions, but they are an integral part of life in the Scandinavian country.

Norwegian union Fellesforbundet said it intended to send a “clear signal to Tesla” and do what was necessary to ensure that any vehicle shipments via Norway to Sweden were blocked, but declined to say exactly which measures it might take.

“The right to demand a collective agreement is an obvious part of our working life and we can’t accept that Tesla places itself on the outside,” Fellesforbundet leader Joern Eggum said in a statement.

The Norwegian union’s actions would begin on Dec. 20.

Tesla has a policy of not agreeing to collective bargaining and says its employees have as good or better terms than those the Swedish union is demanding.

But Nordic labor unions say Tesla’s refusal to play by long-established norms in the region challenge their power and workers’ rights to negotiate wages, vacation, overtime pay and other conditions.

On Tuesday, Denmark’s 3F labor union also said it would support the Swedish mechanics by refusing to unload or transport cars made by Tesla for customers in Sweden.

The Norwegian and Danish unions said their actions would only affect cars that are meant for the Swedish market. 

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