STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Tesla lost a chapter in a legal battle with Sweden's postal service on Thursday as a fight with Nordic trade unions escalates, with a Finnish union joining a port blockade that will prevent the carmaker from importing its vehicles to Sweden.
A Swedish court ruled PostNord does not for the time being need to deliver licence plates to Tesla that are being blocked by the postal service's workers, in the latest twist in a fight over collective bargaining agreements. Tesla is facing growing pressure in the Nordic countries from powerful employee unions backing Swedish IF Metall's mechanics who went on strike on Oct. 27 demanding a collective agreement with the company.
Finnish transport workers' union AKT decided on Thursday to join the sympathy strike against Tesla, saying it would start a blockade of Tesla vehicles destined to Sweden in all Finnish ports from Dec. 20.
"That means Tesla vehicles or components destined to Swedish markets are not loaded by dockers," AKT said in a statement.
AKT's announcement followed similar decisions by Swedish, Danish and Norwegian dockworkers, meaning Tesla will be effectively barred from shipping its cars to Sweden.
"It is a crucial part of the Nordic labour market model that we have collective agreements and unions support each other, AKT president Ismo Kokko said in a statement.
The Nordics is a key market for Tesla, which has a policy of not agreeing to collective bargaining and has said its staff have as good or better terms than those IF Metall is demanding. A large Danish pension fund said on Thursday it had sold its holdings in Tesla over its refusal to enter into such deals.
"We sold our Tesla shares on December 6, when they had a market value of 476 million Danish crowns," ($68.9 million) PensionDanmark told Reuters by email.
Some Swedish pension funds have also urged Tesla to sign the agreement with the union, but so far held off selling its shares.The court's decision on Thursday comes after Tesla sued PostNord as workers stopped delivering plates for its new cars in a sympathy strike, and is an interim decision ahead of the court's final ruling. "The district court has decided that PostNord should not be forced make deliveries to Tesla before the case is closed," the Solna district court said in a statement. Dockworkers, drivers, electricians and cleaners are other workers who refuse, or are threatening to refuse, to service Tesla in sympathy with IF Metall.
Seko, the union that organised the PostNord workers behind the sympathy strike, welcomed the court's latest decision.
"It's about the Swedish collective agreement model, and there is a consensus on it, both politically and between the parties in the labour market, Seko's president Gabriella Lavecchia told Reuters by email.
Last year, Norway was Tesla's fourth-biggest market by number of new car sales. Sweden was its fifth-biggest and Tesla's Model Y is the most sold car in Sweden this year. In a case related to the PostNord one, a court on Nov. 27 ruled that Sweden's transport authority must find a way to get licence plates to Tesla. The agency has appealed the decision. Tesla and IF Metall did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"This is insane," Tesla chief executive Elon Musk said in a comment on X social media on Nov. 23, in response to news on PostNord not delivering license plates to new Tesla cars.
($1 = 6.9101 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Marie Mannes in Stockholm; Anne Kauranen in Helsinki; additional reporting by Johan Ahlander and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski)