Action taken by unions in Sweden to disrupt Tesla deliveries has been spreading over recent weeks. In the latest development, Reuters reports that state-run PostNord, the Swedish Transport Agency’s postal provider, refused to deliver the licence plates for new Tesla vehicles.

Tesla has reacted by filing a lawsuit against the agency. According to Reuters, workers at PostNord joined the strike on November 20 and stopped distributing the licence plates to Tesla. The state-run transport agency turned down Tesla’s request to pick up the licence plates itself and also declined to send them via distribution channels other than PostNord. However, Tesla’s filing has resulted in Solna district court giving Tesla the right to retrieve new vehicle licence plates from Postnord’s Danderyd facility. 

Tesla logo

Tesla has made no comment on the situation in Sweden. Responding to a post on social media channel X (formerly Twitter) Elon Musk said the PostNord action was “insane”. 

Collective agreement at IF Metall
Strike action by workers across Sweden began in October when Tesla refused to sign a collective pay agreement for mechanics affiliated with Sweden’s IF Metall union. IF Metall said the strike was about wages, pensions and insurance for its members working for Tesla, but more fundamentally about standing up for the entire Swedish labour market model.

“In Sweden, it is unions and employers who together agree on wages and working conditions in collective agreement negotiations,” said IF Metall’s president Marie Nilsson. IF Metall’s contract secretary, Veli-Pekka Säikkälä, added that the fact the organisation was forced to resort to the striking was “extremely unusual” but, since the management of Tesla Sweden had made it clear it would not sign a collective agreement, the union saw no other way out.

The action originally involved 130 IF Metall-affiliated workers and affected ten Tesla service centres across seven cities in Sweden: Gothenburg, Malmö, Norrköping, Örebro, Stockholm, Umeå and Uppsala. It has since spread to affect other repair centres.

Port blockade
It has also resulted in stevedores refusing to handle Teslas at the country’s ports. Early in November the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union voted to block all loading and unloading of Tesla cars in all of Sweden’s ports citing the carmaker’s reluctance to sign a collective agreement with IF Metall.

IF Metall_Nilsson_Säikkälä

IF Metall’s president, Marie Nilsson, and contract secretary, Veli-Pekka Säikkälä

The first blockade took place on November 7 in four Swedish ports – Gothenburg, Malmö, Södertälje and Trelleborg. By November 17 the Tesla blockade applied to all 55 of Sweden’s port operators following information that Tesla was planning to transfer imports to other Swedish ports.

Copenhagen Malmö Port (CMP), which operates the port of Malmö, said: “CMP no longer (since beginning of November) handles any Tesla volumes in the port. It seems like Tesla has redirected the volumes that previously was handled by us, to other routes”.

At the time the chairman of the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union, Tommy Wreeth, said: “We have received messages that Tesla cars are planned to be transferred to other Swedish ports and we are now closing that possibility completely. We have, of course, further plans for countermeasures to get Tesla to sign collective bargaining agreement.”

However, Tesla has now taken measures to steer transport flows away from the ports and move them into Sweden by land.

In 2022, Tesla delivered more than 9,000 EVs to Sweden.

On November 15 the Nordic Transport Workers’ Federation NTF, which represents 40 Nordic transport workers’ unions and 340,000 transport workers, gave its full support to Swedish IF Metall in the fight for a collective agreement with Tesla in Sweden.