Sweden: Extended deadline for Lex Laval report

Extra time has been granted for the completion of a report into the long-running Lex Laval saga in Sweden.

The Swedish Ministry of Employment made the announcement in November 2014, and also said the commission set up to look into the affair would be given an extended remit as well as a new chair person. The new deadline for the report is 31 May 2015.

The report was commissioned after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in the so-called Laval case. The court decided legislation regarding posted workers had been breached and overturned Swedish collective agreements.

One of the main purposes of the report is to find ways to strengthen collective agreements applying to posted workers in Sweden. It is felt Swedish collective agreements should apply on Swedish soil.

The Laval case began back in 2004 when a subsidiarity to the Latvian company, Laval un partneri, was commissioned to refurbish a school Sweden. The Latvian workers were employed by Laval, but the company refused to sign a collective agreement with Byggnads, the Swedish trade union for construction workers.

Byggnads reacted by blockading the construction site in Vaxholm. The Swedish Labour Court ruled that the blockade was not illegal but turned to the ECJ for an opinion. The ECJ’s preliminary ruling in 2007 stated that the union had gone too far in its actions and that Swedish law had to be changed.

Since industrial relations in Sweden are almost exclusively arranged through dialogue between social partners this was not only a setback for the union, but a shock for the status of Swedish collective agreements in relation to posted workers. It was also the first hint that the Swedish labour market model was under stress, since it had not adapted to the changing socioeconomic world.

In December 2009, the Swedish Labour Court ruled in line with ECJ’s preliminary ruling and said the unions involved must pay compensation to the Latvian company.

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