Laval case (Vaxholm)

The Laval case gives rise to fundamental questions under Community law. Can Community law restrict or prohibit trade unions in one Member State taking industrial action? Can the application of collective agreements in a host Member State be restricted by Community law?

Circumstances in the case: Swedish unions took action against a Latvian construction company Laval over the working conditions of Latvian workers refurbishing a school in the town of Vaxholm. Laval refused to sign a collective agreement, and a blockade of the work place was initiated by the trade unions as a consequence. The Swedish Labour Court referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Outcome: The ETUC was very disappointed by the ECJ ruling, announced in December 2007, indicating that the right to strike is a fundamental right, but not as fundamental as the right of businesses to supply cross-border services. The ETUC position has always been for equality for migrant workers according to the conditions of the host country. The ruling amounts to a licence for social dumping, and key features of national industrial relations systems face being superseded by the free movement provisions.