Published in Transportation

Musk furious as Swedish strike bites

by on24 November 2023

I don’t see why I have to accept unions

Elon [look at me] Musk thinks the Swedes are crazy after practically shutting down Tesla’s European operation because he will not let them form a union.

The Tesla strike, started by Swedish unions, is escalating and threatens to disrupt the US carmaker’s operations in other parts of Europe.

Musk is a staunch critic of unionisation complained on the X social media platform he owns that the strike was “insane.” However, analysts think it is just because he is not used to getting what he wants because the US unions are pretty much gutted.

Matthias Schmidt, an independent European auto analyst said the strike was a “huge cultural shock to Elon… has gone out of his way to avoid unionisation, but this is a huge wake-up call.”

Unions in Norway, one of Europe’s biggest markets for electric vehicle sales, said they would stop Teslas destined for Sweden being unloaded in the neighbouring Scandinavian country.

But Musk is now facing problems that unions in other nations, especially Germany, opt to join the strike in solidarity with their Swedish counterparts.

Tesla’s Berlin factory now accounts for almost three-quarters of the models it sells in the EU.

“It could snowball into different countries and be replicated elsewhere,” warned Schmidt. “The biggest risk is Germany. We expected something like to happen in Germany when they opened their plant there, with the unions being so strong.”

Musk might have misinterpreted how important this case might have been for the labour movement in Europe.  If they lose then a labour model which has worked reasonably well will go down the loo.

IF Metall union president Marie Nilsson said: “Our Swedish labour model with collective agreements is a competitive advantage in the global market, not a threat,” said Marie Nilsson, president of the

However, it is equally likely that Musk is terrified be might face demands for unionisation elsewhere in Tesla’s global network.

The United Auto Workers, the influential US union, is targeting Tesla to widen its base beyond the traditional Detroit carmakers of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler following its historic pay deal reached last month.

Last modified on 24 November 2023
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