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Trade unionists from »IF Metal« protest in front of a Tesla dealer in Sweden

Photo: Jessica Gow / EPA

The dispute in Sweden over a collective bargaining agreement for around 130 mechanics of the US electric car manufacturer Tesla is drawing wide circles in Scandinavia. Norway's largest trade union, Fellesforbundet, announced that it would block shipments of Tesla deliveries to Sweden from 20 December. The aim is to persuade the carmaker to conclude a collective agreement with the IF Metall trade union in Sweden.

Dock workers in Finland also want to join the strike. They announced that they would also block deliveries of Tesla vehicles in Finnish ports from December 20.

The workers expressed solidarity with the 130 members of IF Metall who walked off the job on October 27 in seven Swedish workshops where the popular electric cars are serviced.

Jørn Eggum, chairman of Fellesforbundet, a Norwegian trade union federation, said that if Tesla does not accept the demand of the Swedish metalworkers' union IF Metall by December 20, "we will continue to carry out boycott measures." The Fellesforbundet trade union also represents workers in car repair shops.

"This is a clear signal to Tesla that they can't transport Swedish Teslas around Norway," Eggum said. He added that it was too early to say exactly what measures will be implemented. If Tesla does try to transport cars through Norway, "we will take action against it and take the necessary measures."

Swedish postmen also refused to work for the carmaker. They refused to hand over license plates for the vehicles. A Swedish court backed them in a decision on Thursday. The court argued that as long as the collective bargaining continued, the postmen had no obligation to deliver the license plates.

Previously, the Danish Transport Workers' Union (EF) had already announced that it wanted to prevent the loading of car imports into Sweden. Also, to force Tesla into collective bargaining. The announcement is based on speculation that Tesla tried to ship vehicles in Denmark instead of Sweden and then transpose them overland to Sweden. The Finnish workers also seem to want to prevent this by blocking Finnish ports.

In Sweden, several unions expressed solidarity with the strike by Tesla mechanics, which has been going on since October. Among them are dock workers, electricians, cleaners. Dockworkers at Sweden's four largest ports have already stopped deliveries of Tesla vehicles.

Tesla rejects collective bargaining agreements and unions globally. The electric carmaker does not have a plant in Sweden, but it does have several workshops.