Διεθνείς Οργανώσεις (εργατικές)

Απόφαση του Δικαστηρίου των Ευρωπαϊκών Κοινοτήτων στην υπόθεση C-438/05

Υπηρεσία Τύπου και Πληροφόρησης του Δικαστηρίου των Ευρωπαϊκών Κοινοτήτων

ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΘΕΝ ΤΥΠΟΥ αριθ. 88/07

The International Transport Workers' Federation & The Finnish Seamen's Union
κατά Viking Line ABP & Oü Viking Line Eesti.

 

European social partners sign an agreement to to fight against harassment and violence at work

Today (26/4/2007), in the presence of Commissioner Špidla, the secretaries general of ETUC, BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME and CEEP officially signed an autonomous framework agreement to fight against harassment and violence at work. Negotiated during ten months, the text commits the members of the signatory parties to combat all unacceptable behaviour that can lead to harassment and violence at the workplace.

ETUC tells the European Central Bank and ECOFIN Ministers that the economy needs higher and robust wage growth

Both the European Central Bank (ECB) and European Finance Ministers are discussing and targeting wages. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) insists that higher wage deals are part of the solution for the growth equation, not part of the problem.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg discussed today the case of the Latvian firm Laval which was forced into insolvency after industrial action by Swedish construction workers.

The case refers to the refusal of Laval , a Latvian company, to sign a Swedish industrial agreement in relation to the construction work being undertaken at a school in the Stockholm region. The Swedish Building WorkersΆ Union (“Byggnads”) and the Swedish ElectriciansΆ Union subsequently took industrial action against Laval.

As put forward before the Court, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and Swedish unions are convinced that the industrial action taken and the Swedish model of industrial bargaining is in full conformity with the principles and requirements of EC law. They are also firm believers in the principles of non-discrimination and in the principle of equal pay for equal work.

The right of workers and their organisations to negotiate industrial agreements - and to take industrial action in cases of conflict - is a fundamental right, enshrined in international conventions, including the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Constitution. These rights are not limited by the rules relating to the free movement of services nor by those relating to the right of establishment in the EU. Trade unions are also entitled to take industrial action in order to secure the fundamental principle of equal pay for equal work.

Moreover, the use of industrial agreements to implement EU legislation was accepted at the time of SwedenΆs accession in 1995 - as was acknowledged by the European Commission in its submission to the ECJ in January 2006. The trade union movement is committed to a labour market model based on principles of openness, equality and flexibility. As was made clear to the ECJ today, our overriding aim is to prevent inequality between European workers.

ETUC survey of recent collective bargaining agreements reveals no risk to price stability but a downward risk to growth and recovery

The European Central Bank (ECB) is engaging in a series of interest rate hikes out of fear that future wage growth might turn out to be higher than currently expected. However, an analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) of the most recently concluded collective bargaining agreements finds that wage dynamics are simply too weak to represent a danger of inflation, both now and in forthcoming years. By hiking interest rates, the ECB is fighting on the wrong battlefield, and ignoring the fact that wage-earnersΆ weak income growth may deliver a renewed setback to recovery.

The outcome of the Viking Case - currently before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) - will have a landmark impact on workers' rights and trade unions' ability to negotiate effectively for the protection of workers and to defend social rights

The case addresses whether a company can deprive workers of the basic right to collective action, by formally relocating its assets in a country where salaries and benefits are lower.

The European Commission must submit its views on the case to the ECJ before the end of April. The ETUC has written to Commission President José Manuel Barroso calling for a carefully “balanced approach” that reflects its obligation to promote social dialogue and the basic social rights laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In 2003, the Finnish Viking shipping line decided that it could gain a competitive advantage by re-flagging its passenger and cargo ferry Rosella, operating between Helsinki and Tallinn in the Baltic Sea, as an Estonian vessel, and replacing the crew with lower-paid seafarers. Dissatisfied with how the situation was resolved in Finland, Viking subsequently went to court in England seeking an injunction to prevent the Finnish Seamen's Union (FSU) taking industrial action at some time in the future in order to protect its memberΆs jobs. Viking also sought to prevent the International Transport WorkersΆ Federation (ITF) in the future from calling on its affiliate members to show solidarity to the FSU. Viking was able to bring its action in the English court only because the ITF has its Secretariat in London.

“This case represents a mirror image of the Laval (or Vaxholm) case in Sweden, which attracted a lot of public attention and concern,” said ETUC General Secretary John Monks. “The potential legal, political and social repercussions of these cases go far beyond the Finnish and Swedish social models and will affect labour relations throughout Europe.”

The stated aim of the employers in these cases is to undermine successful social models and shift the balance of power between the social partners in countries where trade unions have a recognised role in defending workers' interests. The right to collective action lies at the heart of the Nordic social model, a model that is shared by some of the most competitive economies in the world. A finding in favour of the employers would have a damaging impact in parallel circumstances in Germany, France and many other EU Member States.

The ETUC is not opposed to the development of the internal market, or the free movement of goods, capital, services and workers. Nor does it promote protectionism. On the contrary, it seeks a level playing field between Member States, based on fair treatment and upward harmonisation of workers' rights and conditions.

The Commission's submission to the ECJ and the outcome of this case, is of great political importance to the future direction of the EU and to trade union and public support for Europe. As to the right to collective action, it is a legitimate expectation that also the Commission would respect the international commitments of all the Member States, notably to the International Labour Organisation (ILO)Ά s core Conventions. They bind also the Member States of the EU.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomes the publication of the CommissionΆs Communication on social services of general interest. This first step is necessary, but it is not enough.

The publication certainly indicates progress towards recognition of such services, and of the need to clarify the conditions for applying certain Community rules. The ETUC is happy to note the intention of setting the procedure for monitoring and dialogue within the framework of the open method of coordination, and stresses the need to consult the European social partners.

Yet while the ETUC considers that this first step is necessary, it is still inadequate. The Commission must go further with its proposals in this regard, in order to establish greater legal certainty, through a framework directive on services of general interest (SGI), which should also make it possible to take account of the specific character of social services.

It is important to remember that these services are designed for people, and they arise from systems of solidarity aimed at fulfilling a mission of general interest in order to contribute to the objectives of social and territorial cohesion and to guarantee the effective implementation of fundamental rights. So they cannot be subject merely to market forces, based on the law of commercial competition alone.

At the same time, the ETUC holds the view that it is necessary to expand the definition of these services, excluded from the scope of the directive on services in the internal market. The Commission has adopted an approach that is too restrictive. Social services are not provided only to the poor or the excluded, they often have to meet the needs and expectations of all individuals. The ETUC knows from experience that focusing on policies for the poor leads too often to the implementation of poor policies.

The ETUC will continue to work actively, together with other relevant partners, to win measures for social Europe that are worthy of the name.

ETUC Executive Committee reaffirms its vigilance regarding the evolution of the Services Directive

The Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which met on 14 and 15 March, assessed the positive impact of the Euro-demonstration on the draft Services Directive on 14 February. The European trade unions believe that the compromise agreed by the European Parliament must be the foundation for future decisions on the issue
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