EU Court of Justice proves EU-lie – Increasing Chance of Irish No

Posted By Anders On March 3, 2008 @ 13:54 In English, Euromed | 1 Comment

The EU has lied again: In order to make the French and Dutch vote for the EU constitution, the Commission "watered down" the highly controversial "EU Service Law". Now 2 verdicts by the European Court of Justisce (ECJ) confirm the danger which this law contained after all: According to Professor  Jonas Malmberg, Universitety of Uppsala, the ECJ has by the Vaxholm verdict [1] reintroduced a controversial provision of the EU Service Law . This means the possibility was always there - in spite of EU´s promises.

The 4 freedoms of the EU are at odds with social security and the rights of the European trade unions. And the trade unions have lost.

The implications of 2 EU-Court of Justice verdicts may be far-reaching as Irish trade unions suggest this may bring their members to vote no to the Constitutional Reform Treaty.
And this may prove decisive, since in Nov. 2007 [2] only 25% of Irish citizens would currently vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty.
In Dec. of 2007, 2 European Court of Justice verdicts limited the right of trade unions to strike.
The cases raised a great amount of attention due to the fact that two basic principles established in the EU treaties - companies' freedom of establishment in any member state and workers' right to take collective action to oppose business decisions affecting their rights - were obviously conflicting with each other.
1. [3] The Viking Line threatened to reflag a Finnish ship sailing between Helsinki and Tallinn to another EU-member state, Estonia, and then navigate Finnish waters as usual with an Estonian crew at a much lower salary. The International Transport Workers' Federation [4]  (ITF) and the Finnish Seamen's Union[5] threatened to go on strike. The case was treated by the Finnish Court of Labour, and then via the London Commercial Court referred to the European Court of Justice in November of 2005. 
On 23 May ([6] EurActiv 24/05/07), Advocate-General Miguel Poiares Maduro expressed the view that trade unions could take collective action to dissuade a company from relocating within the EU, as long as this did not partition the labour market along national lines or prevent a relocated company from providing services in another member state. The ECJ follows the opinion of the Advocate-General in moret than 90% of cases.

In the [7] opinion of the ECJ it is the task of the courts of the EU Member States to judge the appropriateness of a strike in the individual case. The ECJ’s findings will now be sent [8] back to the Court of Appeal, which will have to apply them to the facts to deliver a final outcome in the dispute.

[7] 2. In 2004 the firm Laval errected school buildings in Vaxholm near Stockholm and paid its Latvian employees according to Latvian rates. Because the enterprise refused to follow the Swedish industry-wide collective agreement, the trade unions organized industrial action and boycott measures. The lawsuit which was triggered off by this went up to the Swedish labour court of justice which called in the ECJ.

On December 18th, 2007, the ECJ judged, that the actions of the Swedish construction trade union were disproportionately against the Latvian enterprise Laval.. In a preliminary ruling it should be cleared whether industrial actions are permitted according to EU legislation to force foreign companies to follow the Swedish industry-wide collective agreement for foreign workers on Swedish soil (see report in the EWC News 4/2005).
This question is decided now. The judges confirmed the right to strike, but declared the [9] actions taken against Laval as incompatible with the EU Posting Directive. 

Fear of social dumping
The trade unions consider the verdict an attack on existing wage agreements and fear an amplified pay dumping. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) expects amendments of the law as a result of this verdict in all EU countries which have transposed the Posting Directive. The ECJ has now declared in both cases that EU rules on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour gives private firms protection against collective action by trade unions. In other words an employers' right to "freedom of establishment" trumps the right to strike.
”The European Court of Justice has now given itself the opportunity to scrutinize the legitimacy and the proportionality of any given dispute and the effect on the employer,"  Richard Arthur of Thompson said.

"This highlights the fact that the Posted Workers Directive is designed to remove obstacles to the freedom of firms to provide services abroad - not to provide social protection for workers. In fact, it is a mechanism for exporting low pay to other member states."

Article 28 of the Charter, appended to the renamed EU constitution, says workers may 'take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action'. But an Explanation in Declaration 12 also qualifies this by stating: 'The limits for the exercise of collective action, including strike action, come under national laws and practices'.
Moreover, the entire Charter can be suspended at any time to protect the 'general interests' of the EU or, of course, if it interferes with 'the smooth operation of the market'.

Europe's trade unions have demanded a legal boost to their right to strike following recent EU court judgements with implications for workers rights across the Union. "[1] We have been told that our right to strike is fundamental but not as fundamental as free movement of services," John Monks, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) chief, told a Brussels meeting on Tuesday (26 February).
 "Their rulings could damage the bloc's social policy achievements by legally introducing what he views as a "licence for social dumping."

[1] Political implications of the ECJ rulings 

This seems to be the attitude toward the EU in Ireland before the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. And the 2 EU-labour market verdicts will no doubt reinforce this attitude. This leaves us some hope of a no!

Irish Labour MEP Proinsias de Rossa warned that the issue will be seized by eurosceptics ahead of the planned referendum in Ireland on the EU treaty with trade union organisations in Ireland reluctant to endorse the document.   
Earlier this month, Danish opposition Social Democrats asked the country's government to seek guarantees on its collective bargaining rights system before the EU's new treaty is ratified.
But of course one has to doubt the validity of such a guarantee from the totally unreliable EU after these 2 cases.

In Nordic countries, the Luxembourg court's judgements are viewed as undermining the countries' social model, frequently praised as providing a good balance of flexible labour law and security provisions for workers.
"With the Vaxholm case, the EU runs over the union right to place a company in blockade when Eastern workers get too little in their wage bags," Danish centre-left MEP Ole Christensen said in a separate meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Swedish MEP Jan Andersson echoed similar concerns. "If it becomes common that a country can go in and compete with much lower salaries, all hell will break loose," he said, pointing out that the next EU enlargements could bring in countries with even lower salaries than the 2004 newcomers.

The reason for the French rejection of the EU Constitution is herewith reintroduced
Some experts argue that the verdict on the Vaxholm case has practically reaffirmed the rejected and most controversial element of the hugely controversial EU service law, held partially responsible for the French rejection of the EU constitution. The law was later strongly watered down.
Its core tenet was the country of origin principle under which firms could provide services in other EU member states under the same pay and social rules as in the country where they are based.

But the European Commission arrogantly dismissed such arguments. EU social policy commissioner Vladimir Spidla said that the verdict on Vaxholm case is "a balanced judgment that fully respects the member states' choice of organisation of industrial relations, including the Nordic social model."

Now it is up to the Irish to answer this arraogance in an appropriate way at their referendum!!

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URLs in this post:
[1] reintroduced a controversial provision of the EU Service Law:
[2] only 25% of Irish :
[3] The Viking Line:
[4]  :
[5] :
[6] EurActiv 24/05/07:
[7] opinion of the ECJ:
[8] back to the Court of Appeal:
[9] actions taken against Laval as incompatible :