The Swedish Labour Court asks for a preliminary ruling from the ECJ regarding dispute of pay for Latvian workers

The dispute about whether Swedish trade union conflict actions could be permitted in order to reach a pay agreement with a Latvian construction company situated in Sweden, working with Latvian employees has temporarily been put aside. The Swedish Labour Court decided 27 April 2005 to ask the European Court of Justice of a preliminary ruling.

In 2 November 2004 the Swedish Building Workers’ Union (Svenska Byggarbetareförbundet) launched a boycott of the Latvian construction company Laval Un Partneri Ltd, and its daughter company L&P Baltic. The L&P Baltic was then working in Waxholm near Stockholm, with a staff of Latvian workers. The company refused to pay Swedish wages to the Latvian workers and refused to conclude a Swedish collective agreement (a so-called pending agreement), urged by the trade union. The blockade from the Swedish Building Workers Union’, joined later by the Swedish Electricians’ Union (Svenska Elektrikerförbundet) issuing sympathy actions on electrical installations at the L&P Baltic building went on for 101 days and was stopped as the company and its staff left the site and returned to Latvia.

In December 2004 the L&P Baltic turned to the Swedish Labour Court (Arbetsdomstolen) with a demand that the Court should prohibit immediately the current conflict actions in an interim decision. The Labour Court however rejected the claims, as L&P Baltic according to the court’s meaning had not showed a probable cause for the claims. In doing so, the conflict actions could go on. (SE0412101N)

However, the Latvian Company sued the concerned Swedish trade unions before the Labour Court. The L&P Baltic still argued that the conflict actions were illegal, as they were contrary to the EU law. The trade unions meant however that the conflict actions are allowed in the Swedish law and that conflict rules are national and not under the EU law.

29 April 2005 the Court decided that it was necessary to turn to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling, before the case might be concluded in Sweden. The Labour Court finds in its decision that the contents of EU law is not clear as to the questions of whether the conflict actions taken towards the Latvian company are in line with the prohibition against the restrictions in the articles of a free movement for services and of a prohibition against all discrimination of nationality (articles 49 respective of 12 in the EU Charter, Rome) and the Directive 96/71/EG about Posting of Workers.

So, the Latvian workers in Waxholm went back to Latvia in the beginning of 2005. In April 2005 the L&P Baltic filed a petition of bankruptcy in Latvia. As L&P Baltic is a subsidiary to the Laval Un Partneri Company the latter currently conducts the case in the Swedish Labour Court.

This information is made available through the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), as a service to users of the EIROnline database. EIRO is a project of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. However, this information has been neither edited nor approved by the Foundation, which means that it is not responsible for its content and accuracy. This is the responsibility of the EIRO national centre that originated/provided the information. For details see the "About this record" information in this record.

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