Tesla has found itself in an escalating labor dispute with Scandinavian unions as Danish dockworkers said they will refuse to transport the automaker’s wares to Sweden.
Denmark’s 3F union announced Tuesday they would not facilitate the movement of vehicles headed for Sweden in solidarity with Swedish union IF Metall members, who are demanding that Tesla sign a collective bargaining agreement.
Tesla, which is non-unionized globally, is refusing to sign an agreement.
Most employers in Sweden have collective bargaining agreements with workers. Such an approach—part of what is dubbed the “Nordic model”—is one that unions and employers say is responsible for low strike action in the region.
“Although you are one of the richest people in the world, you can’t just make your own rules. We have some agreements on the labor market in the Nordics, and you have to comply with them if you want to do business here,” 3F’s Jan Villadsen said, according to the Financial Times.
While Tesla has no manufacturing plants in Sweden, it does have multiple service centers. Some 130 members of IF Metall staged a walk out from these centers on Oct. 27. Local mechanics have also stopped servicing Tesla cars in efforts to support the union action, and deliveries have been refused at Sweden’s four largest ports, AP reported.
“If Metall and the Swedish workers are currently fighting an incredibly important battle. When they ask for our support, we take part, of course,” Villadsen said.
Talk of Tesla sending its cars to Danish ports for overland transport to Sweden had swirled ahead 3F’s announcement Tuesday. “Concretely, this means that dock workers and drivers will not receive and transport Tesla’s cars going to Sweden,” 3F said in a statement. “With the sympathy action, that model is no longer possible.”
Jakob Lykke, local head of 3F Transport in Esbjerg, said that the Danish union’s decision will come into force from Dec. 20 following a mandatory two-week notice period.
Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, fired back at the strikes during a New York Times event on Nov. 29. “I disagree with the idea of unions. I just don’t like anything which creates a lords and peasants kind of thing,” Musk said.
Norwegian unions are reportedly in conversation over their own roles in the ongoing disputes. Tesla sells twice as many cars in Norway than it does Sweden.