Two Danish pension funds are divesting a total of €96.3m in Tesla shares as part of a rapidly-spreading protest against the US electric car giant’s hard line in Sweden on labour-market cooperation.
Pædagogernes Pension (PBU), the DKK90bn (€12bn) Danish pension fund for education practitioners, and the DKK317bn blue-collar pension fund PensionDanmark have both confirmed they are excluding Tesla shares from their investment universes because of Tesla’s refusal to sign collective labour agreements in any country.
A labour dispute in Sweden between Tesla and Swedish trade union IF Metall, which escalated to a strike on 27 October, has sparked sympathy strikes in Sweden as well as Norway and now Denmark.
On Monday, major Danish trade union 3F notified the Danish Employers’ Association that it would start a sympathy strike, under which in a fortnight’s time Tesla cars would neither be unloaded in Danish ports nor would cars be transported to Sweden.
Sune Schackenfeldt, PBU chief executive officer, said: “Freedom to join a trade union and the right to negotiate wages collectively are part of Pædagogernes Pension’s core values and an important element in our adherence to the UN’s Global Compact. We cannot compromise on that.”
The member-owned pension fund said it had most recently discussed employee rights with Tesla in March this year, but said Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s “categorical statements and his hard course against the Nordic trade union movement make it unsustainable for Pædagogernes Pension to continue investing in the company”.
PBU has previously divested from Amazon, Walmart and Ryanair because of labour rights issues.
Jan Villadsen, chair of 3F and a PensionDanmark board member, had called on PensionDanmark to drop its shares in Tesla if it failed to enter into an agreement with Tesla’s employees in Sweden, according to Danish national broadcaster DR.
PensionDanmark told IPE it divested from Tesla yesterday, selling a position of DKK476m, while PBU has sold off a DKK242m holding.
In a statement, PensionDanmark said its approach to responsible investments was founded on international conventions and agreements, including the International Labour Organisation conventions.
“If a company does not comply with our policies, we initially attempt to influence the company through active ownership – directly and co-ordinated with other shareholders,” it said, adding that this had been the case with Tesla as well.
“In the light of the conflict spreading to Denmark and Tesla’s latest and very categorical refusal to reach collective agreements in any country, we have reached the conclusion that we as investors for the time being are unlikely to influence the company.
“And therefore, we are placing Tesla on our exclusion list,” PensionDanmark said.
IPE has contacted Tesla for comment.
Read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine