In Sweden, the Tesla brand, Elon Musk’s flagship brand, is facing an outcry. Indeed, Musk refuses to ratify, for strictly ideological reasons, a working agreement with his employees.
Anti-unionist and libertarian, Musk readily believes that the future of humanity lies in the stars. But, here below, can he understand the duty of reaching out to his neighbor?
The Swedes criticize him for arriving with a concept of work that is dated to say the least. It is true that work without a social safety net, even disguised with the glitz of high-techhas something feudal about it.
Great lords such as Elon Musk get away with anything. Their way of life bears witness to this. However, they are clamoring for “flexibility”, “restructuring”, “reforms”, “flexibility”, all words which, in their mouths, serve to ensure their empire over others.
Following the model of libertarian managers from the crucible of Silicon Valley, Musk advocates permanent self-reinvention for workers. Under this concept, stress or suffering caused by work is considered a personal matter. Employees are supervised by “human resources” teams. They whip the psyche of employees. They inflate their enthusiasm by means of precepts distilled from psycho pop. That work is considered in this way as the main instrument of personal fulfillment tends to mask the primary objective of these attentions: to squeeze the lemon, to encourage growth, to squeeze out all the juice possible.
Tesla wants to decide on working conditions alone. The boss wishes to call into question, in the name of his private interests, the public model which supports Swedish society.
The Swedes decided not to let this happen.
This is not a simple question of economic prospects. The Swedes quickly understood this. This is first and foremost a political question. Because a society cannot last if it agrees to devote itself solely to the wishes of such lords, disregarding the primary needs of a community.
The great dance of the strike therefore began. Seven Tesla dealerships got the ball rolling. In solidarity, Swedish mechanics began to refuse Teslas. Specialized electricians, in turn, stopped looking at these vehicles. They stopped maintaining the charging stations. For their part, Swedish posts refuse to provide the multinational with the documents necessary for the circulation of its vehicles. At the port, stevedores no longer handle Tesla cargo. All this took on an even greater dimension when workers in other Scandinavian countries, notably in Norway, announced that they were seriously considering following suit.
Rather than realizing that his model ignores the most basic social justice, the American billionaire took the matter to the Swedish courts. It gives the State the function of disavowing the needs of its citizens. In many countries, politicians appear to have forgotten what they are elected to do: to be the guardians of the interests of the State, of those of society, rather than of the powerful who lead them by the nose.
No, this is not a banal episode of social struggles taking place in Sweden. Indeed, Elon Musk is not the only one to believe in the priority of his interests over the needs and integrity of a community. Many companies, lulled by the promises of an era of gadgets, do exactly like him. It took the threat of a strike for the company Klarna, also Swedish, a specialist in split payment, to agree to negotiate with its workers. The company of streaming Swedish Spotify found itself in a position just as out of step with the reality of its employees, singing to them the refrain of the greatness of an economy which ended up swallowing them. Spotify has just laid off 1,500 employees.
Sitting on a fortune valued at more than $300 billion, Musk believes he can make short work of Swedish union members. Notice that their strike fund has enough to help them hold on. The equivalent of $1.9 billion accumulated in contributions is there to cover them in times of worst. In Quebec, the union members of the Autonomous Education Federation threw themselves headlong into the strike, but without the slightest safety cushion, strong only in their desire to defend public schools. We must recognize the deep sincerity of convictions which are manifested in this way, with bare hands.
It’s not trivial what’s happening this fall with us. Unheard of in fifty years. This strike expresses a general sadness with regard to what is happening to our social model. By dint of conceiving that the private sector was the solution to everything, the painful awareness of the fact that the population finds itself deprived of everything emerges.
What does the fact that 6,200 teachers have resigned in five years tell us? Since the start of the school year, 800 teachers have taken to the fields. The conditions in education have got the better of many well-intentioned, competent people, trained for years at great cost. These people who are greatly needed by the children of the country have left. Bye. Finished. Good evening. However, the government dares to assert that these pillars of public service — very poorly treated in comparison with the Canadian average — are taking children hostage, that they should, according to the common discourse among Silicon Valley bosses, show more “flexibility”. It’s not teachers we seem to want in this government, but jugglers, contortionists and tightrope walkers, people who are both mute and docile.
In other countries, such an affront to common reason would lead to a strike of even greater dimensions.