Adjudication without Frontiers
Edited by Horatia Muir Watt, Lucia Bíziková, Agatha Brandão de Oliveira and Diego P. Fernandez Arroyo
The European Union protects, on one hand, freedom of movement and establishment; and on the other hand, the right to take industrial action. The interaction between these two principles becomes highly sensitive in situations where the purpose of collective action by workers is to limit the free movement of the employer. Such is the case in the context of the cross-border posting of workers needed to carry out a service in another Member State. This difficult issue arose in 2007 between the company, Laval, and the Swedish Workers’ Union Byggnads. The dispute led to a ruling by the ECJ and a subsequent decision of the European Committee of Social Rights. Laval un Partneri Ltd was a Latvian construction company that won a public tender offer for construction work on a school near Stockholm. Laval then proceeded to post Latvian workers to Sweden in accordance with the 96/71/EC Posting of Workers Directive (‘Directive’). It was estimated that Latvian workers earned 40% less than Swedish workers. The Swedish Building Workers’ Union demanded Laval to sign a collective agreement that would align the conditions applicable for Latvian workers to applicable Swedish standards enforced in the industry. As Laval refused to sign the agreement, the Swedish Workers Union, joined by the Swedish Electricians Union, initiated a strike against Laval and barricaded Laval’s construction site. The strike had caused its Swedish subsidiary, Baltic Bygg, to declare bankruptcy, forcibly sending all of its workers back to Latvia.
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