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Good news for unions in Vaxholm conflict

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11:40 CEST+02:00
The industrial action taken by Swedish unions against a Latvian firm in Vaxholm was not in breach of EU regulations surrounding freedom of movement, according to the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice.

Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi made his recommendation to the Court on Monday morning.

Among those waiting with interest for a decision on the bitter Vaxholm conflict were lawyers from trade union federation LO, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the Latvian Government.

According to Mengozzi, trade unions may seek to impose a collective agreement on temporary workers from another member state "provided that the collective action is motivated by public-interest objectives, such as the protection of workers and the fight against social dumping, and is not carried out in a manner that is disproportionate to the attainment of those objectives."

Social Democratic MEP Jan Andersson considers it of great importance that the Advocate General takes up the issue of social dumping.

"If the line taken by the Advocate General prevails in the final verdict it is unthinkable that the Swedish Labour Court will reach any other conclusion," said Andersson, who is also chairman of the EU Parliament's labour market committee.

"The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has been soundly beaten, even though they of course will maintain that the industrial action taken by the Construction Workers' Union was disproportionate," he added.

In November 2004, the Swedish unions, led by the Construction Workers' Union, blockaded the renovation of a school in Vaxholm by a subsidiary of the Latvian construction company Laval.

The blockade came about as a result of Laval's refusal to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the Construction Workers' Union.

The case finally arrived at the European Court of Justice in January this year. The Court was asked to consider whether the unions' blockade was in breach of EU regulations pertaining to freedom of movement.

The Court is not bound to follow the Advocate General's advisory recommendation. A final verdict is expected to by reached by the end of the year at the earliest.

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