EU countries support Swedish union

Sweden has secured significant EU support for its position in the Vaxholm case, where Latvian company Laval is contesting the blockade by Swedish union Byggnads of a building site near Stockholm.

Sixteen European countries have laid out their position on the Vaxholm case. Of these, the majority said that they supported the union’s right to take action against the Latvian builders, according to a newsletter from the Swedish Institute for Working Life, a government agency.

The blockade was started after a Laval subsidiary employed Latvian workers on the school site in Vaxholm, near Stockholm. The workers had not signed Swedish collective agreements.

The European Commission has laid out its position, saying that Swedish unions should be allowed to take action to defend collective agreements. It also said, however, that as the Swedish collective agreements cover more than just wage levels they are a disproportionate hindrance to the free movement of services.

The commission did not comment directly on the action taken by the union in the Vaxholm case.

A number of countries, mainly in the Baltic region, have stated their support for the Latvian company.

The majority, however, take the line that EU rules allow the union to take industrial action to force foreign employers to sign collective agreements. Belgium, Norway and Austria have agreed unreservedly with Sweden. Others, including Germany, support Sweden on the proviso that the unions’ actions are proportional.