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 Workers' Union (“Byggnads”) and the Swedish Electricians' 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 Sweden's 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.
Head of Press and Communications
Tel: + 32 (0)2 224 04 30 - GSM: + 32 (0)477 77 01 64
Hakan Olander, Press Officer, Swedish Building Workers' Union
Tel: +46 70 552 67 40