Questions and answers regarding the Tesla conflict
Collective agreement What is the Swedish trade unions’ conflict with Tesla about? Don't the workers already have good working conditions? What if Tesla leaves Sweden? Here you will find answers to questions that are relevant to IF Metall's attempt to reach a collective agreement with Tesla.
What is the union's conflict with Tesla about?
Swedish wages and working conditions should apply to all workers in Sweden. There is only one way to guarantee that Swedish workers receive Swedish wages, wage increases, pensions and working conditions. The guarantee is that the union signs a collective agreement with the employer. In Sweden, we do not have statutory minimum wages, instead wages are regulated in the collective agreements, which means that a company without a collective agreement can pay as low wages as it likes. IF Metall has been trying to sign a collective agreement with Tesla Sweden for many years, but Tesla has refused to do so. As a result, IF Metall and several other LO unions involved with Tesla are now on strike.
Is it reasonable that a company from the United States must comply with Swedish collective agreements?
Yes, all workers in Sweden should have Swedish wages and working conditions. In Sweden, we should not have American conditions. A company that comes to Sweden must adapt to what applies here. In Sweden, over 90 percent of the employees are covered by collective agreements. For example, we do not have statutory minimum wages. In Sweden, wages and working conditions are set in negotiations between unions and employers. Tesla must also adapt to this. Their employees have the same rights as other workers in Sweden.
But Tesla says that its employees already have good conditions?
According to IF Metall, the average wage is below the average in the sector. Companies that do not want to give Swedish wages and working conditions to Swedish workers always say that their employees are better off without an agreement. Let's say this is true for a particular company. What is then the problem for the company to sign a collective agreement? Nothing. A collective agreement does not prevent an employer from offering even better conditions than the agreement. But it does prevent the employer from unilaterally determining or reducing wages and conditions whenever they want. Without a collective agreement, the power is entirely with the employer, and we can never accept that. We do not do that in Sweden.
Can it affect customers?
Yes, as long as Tesla does not accept that Swedish wages and working conditions apply to all Swedish workers in Sweden, it can affect their customers. The entire trade union movement welcomes fair competition between companies and we do not accept that companies dump wages and working conditions in order to assert themselves. There should be a level playing field for all entrepreneurs and employers. If an employer refuses to sign a collective agreement, it affects not only the employees - but also all Swedish companies that do the right thing. Thus, Tesla puts its customers in a very difficult position.
What if Tesla leaves Sweden - have you really helped Swedish workers then?
We believe that all workers in Sweden should have collectively agreed wages and conditions. Our goal is that Tesla accepts that. This is something that all companies in Sweden must adhere to. American multi-billion dollar companies also have to accept that they have to take the custom where it comes. If we allow a giant company to do as they wish, more will follow. There are companies with collective agreements that already repair Tesla cars, so the jobs would not disappear.
So you are prepared to throw Tesla out?
Our goal is that all workers in Sweden have Swedish wages, wage increases, pensions and working conditions. This also applies to Tesla. If the Tesla company does not want to pay Swedish wages in Sweden, that is their choice. But Tesla is a very popular car. We want them to sign a collective agreement. Should they choose a different path, there is certainly a market for Tesla car repairs in Swedish workshops that follow Swedish labour market rules.
What are the benefits of collective agreements?
- Collective agreements are an effective way to regulate working conditions in the labour market. Employees get wage increases, security and influence, and employers get industrial peace and industry-specific solutions.
- Collective agreements protect workers' social rights. The collective agreement is a guarantee that their working conditions will remain in place tomorrow.
- Collective agreements provide industrial peace. Sweden is one of those countries in the world with the least number of strike days.
- Collective agreements are independent from politics.
- Collective agreements provide competitive neutrality between companies and security for workers.