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Swedish Labour Court in the Laval Case: Trade unions liable to damages
On 2 December 2009, the Swedish Labour Court delivered its final judgment in the Laval Case, sentencing the Swedish Construction and Electricians unions to pay damages and legal costs of 2.5 million SEK, ca 250 000 €. This is a remarkable judgment, since the same Court 5 years ago pronounced, in an interim decision, the industrial conflict as lawful according to Swedish legislation. The judgment in the Swedish Court has to be seen in connection to the bill recently put forward by the Swedish government for a new legislation following the judgment in the European Court of Justice in December 2007. In the bill, a new legislation is proposed which e.g. will restrict the right for trade unions to take collective actions – about any working conditions other than national minimum conditions – related to posted workers. The Swedish trade unions are now demanding the Parliament to submit the bill to the Swedish Constitutional Court, to see whether it is compatible with the Swedish Constitution, with the European Convention of Human Rights, with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force 1 December 2009, and with the ILO Conventions ratified by Sweden.

The judgment of the Swedish Court may also have potential serious consequences on the right to strike at EU level, since collective actions that are lawful according to national legislation in a Member State may be pronounced unlawful according to EU law and thus liable to damages – by way of the horizontal direct effect given to EU law by the European Court of Justice. The Swedish judgment together with the four judgments in 2007 and 2008 in the European Court of Judgment – Laval, Viking, Rüffert and Commission vs Luxembourg – underlines the importance of a changed European legislation, respecting social fundamental rights, restoring the right to strike for posted workers, and giving the possibility for trade unions and Member States to demand equal treatment for posted workers.

 
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