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Tesla sues Sweden as strikes target carmaker

Tesla has sued the Swedish Transport Agency after postal workers stopped delivering licence plates connected to the electric car company.

The move is intended to support a strike by Tesla metal workers in the country.

The IF Metall union is fighting the US carmaker for a collective bargaining agreement, which is standard in Sweden.

Tesla boss, billionaire Elon Musk, said last week the potential impact of the stand-off was “insane”.

About 130 staff at Tesla’s Swedish repair shops have been on strike since 27 October, demanding an agreement to guarantee “good wages, good pensions and good insurance for staff”, according to IF Metall.

Eight other unions have since announced their own actions targeting Tesla in sympathy with the repair workers.

The postal workers’ Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees (Seko) started its “blockade” on 20 November. Dockworkers also recently stopped unloading Tesla cars.

Tesla’s lawsuit, filed in district court on Monday, accuses the Transport Agency, part of the Swedish government, of unfairly targeting Tesla by not fulfilling the deliveries of the registration plates, according to reports.

It demanded access to the plates – a request that the court granted in a preliminary ruling, according to Swedish media.

The temporary injunction means the Transport Agency, which had said it was bound to use the state-backed mail carrier, must get the plates to Tesla within seven days or face a fine.

A spokesperson for the agency said it had not seen the lawsuit but did not share the view that it was failing to meet obligations.

“Tesla has decided to have the issue tested in court, which is their right,” Mikael Andersson said.

“We need to look at the lawsuit and Tesla’s reasoning in it. Reasonably, the district court will allow the Swedish Transport Agency to express itself in the case and thus our attitude to Tesla’s reasoning will be clear. The District Court may then hear the matter.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr Musk is known for opposing unionisation at the car company.

Last week, he weighed in on X, the social media platform he owns, responding to an article about the strike with the comment: “This is insane”.

In announcing its action last week, the Seko president, Gabriella Lavecchia, said IF Metall’s fight was “also our fight” and that Tesla was refusing to play by the “rules of the game here in Sweden”, according to a translation of the announcement.

“It is of course completely unacceptable,” she said. “The fight that IF Metall is now taking is important for the entire Swedish collective agreement model.”

IF Metall has said Tesla workers have lower wages and are offered fewer benefits than is the industry standard.

It said that while some big US companies, including Amazon, have resisted collective bargaining agreements, most end up complying.

“We are convinced that even Tesla will realise that there is no tenable reason to maintain its almost dogmatic resistance to signing contracts,” the union said. –