Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση

Απόφαση του Δικαστηρίου των Ευρωπαϊκών Κοινοτήτων στην υπόθεση C-341/05

Υπηρεσία Τύπου και Πληροφόρησης του Δικαστηρίου των Ευρωπαϊκών Κοινοτήτων

ΑΝΑΚΟΙΝΩΘΕΝ ΤΥΠΟΥ αριθ. 98/07

Laval un Partneri Ltd κατά Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet κλπ.
 

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.

 

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.

Commission launches open debate: Modernising labour law to meet the challenges of the 21st century

Brussels 22-11-2006. The European Commission today launched a broad open public debate on reviewing labour law and adaptation to the modern world of work. The discussion paper will ask Member States, social partners and other stakeholder how labour law at EU and national level can help the job market become more flexible while maximizing security for workers (the 'flexicurity' approach). The consultation will run over a period of four months and its contributions will feed into in the upcoming Commission communication on flexicurity in June 2007.

EU launches campaign to help prevent asbestos exposure

Brussels 01-09-2006. The European Commission is launching a publicity campaign in all 25 Member States to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure. The campaign, which is set to begin September 1, will be accompanied by information and training activities and a practical guide to best practices.

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.

Annual review of working conditions in the EU: 2005-2006

This third annual review examines four key dimensions of working conditions and quality of work and employment: career and employment, health and well-being, skills development, and work-life balance. The report outlines relevant legislative and policy developments, and examines trends in the workplace. As part of its work programme for 2005, the European Commission presented a series of communications on migration, and extensive debate continues on this issue. The Working Time Directive also remains on the agenda, with continuing discussions on the individual opt-out and on the definition of ΅on-callΆ time. Musculoskeletal disorders remain the most predominant work-related health problem. A welcome development in the area of health and well-being was the start of negotiations between the European social partners on combating violence and harassment in the workplace. Gender equality received specific attention in several EU policy documents, not least the European ParliamentΆs Committee on Employment and Social Affairs report on the impact of long working hours on reconciliation of work and family life, and the impact on equal opportunities. Another topic high on the agenda is training, lifelong learning and competence development; attaining a knowledge society and a highly qualified workforce forms a crucial element for the success of the Lisbon Strategy.

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.

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