EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Strike action at EU level

Strike action at EU level involves industrial action in response to developments in EU policy in two or more countries across Europe, taken to secure a common outcome.

Strike action at EU level is rare and mostly aimed at developments in EU policy. Examples of such industrial action would include action taken on 19 June 2002 by employees in a range of countries around Europe working in air traffic control in protest against the European Commission’s plans to create a single European airspace. Similarly, action taken on 14 March 2002 by the International Transport Workers’ Federation would amount to action at EU level: in this case, the organisation called its fourth annual international railway workers’ action day to draw attention to health and safety issues resulting from deregulation of railways. It may be differentiated from transnational industrial action where the aim is to take action against a transnational company operating in more than one EU Member State.

The ability to take action whether at EU level or transnationally is potentially narrowed due to the rulings of the European Court of Justice, particularly in the Viking case, which held that a trade union call for international solidarity action conflicted with the right to the free movement of goods and services. The ruling applies in cases of strike action at EU level in the same way as it clearly does for transnational industrial action.

See also: Community Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers; collective industrial relations; Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; EU system of industrial relations; right to strike; right to take collective action; solidarity in industrial relations.

Please note: the European industrial relations dictionary is updated annually. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them.
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