Nordic pension funds are set to put their shareholder power behind a proposal tabled for the Tesla annual general meeting (AGM) next month in a bid to force the US electric car firm to allow workers to unionise.

Tomas Flodén, the chief investment officer of Swedish blue-collar pension fund AMF said this morning: “Already in March 2023, AMF sent a formal letter to Tesla’s management with questions and demands linked to worrying information about a lack of respect for workers’ rights.

“As this has not been dealt with by the company, we are now taking further steps,” he said.

Tesla is including in its agenda for its 13 June AGM a shareholder proposal as put forward by a group of investors including Swedish pensions and insurance group Folksam and SOC Investment Group.

That proposal, which Tesla’s management opposes, states that the company should “adopt a non-interference policy upholding the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in its operations”, as reflected in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Flodén said AMF supported the proposal, and added: “We are also actively working to get other Nordic investors to support the initiative.”

The AMF CIO said the SEK790bn (€67.7bn) pension fund was also taking action regarding the labour rights behaviour of tech heavyweight Apple, saying it could potentially turn to the courts.

“With the support of American rules regarding shareholders’ right of access, we are now also taking measures to get access to Apple’s and Tesla’s internal guidelines for handling employee rights,” Flodén said.

“If it turns out that the documentation we have access to is not at a reasonable level, and we judge that these deficiencies can damage the companies, and therefore us as shareholders, there is the option of taking further formal measures, including legal ones such as claims for compensation for the damage we as owners have suffered,” he said.

At the end of last year, several Nordic pension funds joined a wave of solidarity with striking Swedish Tesla workers, signing a collective investor letter to Tesla about the issue.

Two Danish pension funds divested a total of €96.3m in reaction to Tesla’s hard line in Sweden on labour-market cooperation.

In Norway, KLP seems likely to back the Tesla AGM proposal. Last month, Kiran Aziz, head of responsible investments at municipal pension provider, was reported by Reuters as saying that since Tesla had not replied to the collective letter, the next step could be filing a shareholder proposal at its AGM.

As today is a public holiday in Norway, IPE was unable to contact KLP for an update on the matter.

Read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine