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Victory for unions in EU May 23, 2007

Posted by franklittle in European Politics, Judiciary, Trade Unions.
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Going along with the desire to back away from the elections for a bit, interesting story on RTE today. A preliminary judgment in the European Court of Justice has interesting implications for capital’s ‘race to the bottom’ in Europe, and the Bolkestein Directive.

The first case involves Latvian workers in Sweden being paid at the rate set in their own country, half the wage rate of Swedish workers. The judgment found that the Swedish union who brought the case was entitled to insist the Latvians be paid at Swedish rates when working in Sweden. Slightly suspiciously however, this right ‘had to be proportionate and in the public interest’

Since the EU traditionally defines ‘public interest’ as being synonymous with ‘corporate interest’, that’s not a caveat that’s without dangers.

More here from the EU Observer and here from RTE and a statement from the European Trade Union Congress here, which welcomes the ruling but wisely observes it still needs to be confirmed and that the details needs to be closely studied.

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1. Donagh - May 23, 2007

When I heard this on the radio this morning I thought of the case brought up by Conor (formerly Ben) on DO about the Latvian workers in Irish Mushroom farms. In their case they have to work 80 hours a week and there seems to be serious health and safety issues. The only difference with the Swedish case and the Irish one is that the Latvian mushroom workers are employed by an Irish company and not a Latvian one, so it doesn’t relate to the Bolkestein Directive.

But it is exactly the same as the Irish Ferries dispute in that employee protections are being obviously flouted. Here’s a publication from the Mushroom Workers Support Group, which, I’ve just noticed, sports a forward by Martin Sheen. Go, Josiah Bartlet!

http://www.mrci.ie/publications/documents/HARVESTINGJUSTICE.pdf

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2. WorldbyStorm - May 23, 2007

Hmmm interesting franklittle…that ‘proportionate…’ etc will need to be parsed out before we can really celebrate, although on the face of it it is a step forward…

Incidentally Conor is now Conor and not Ben? Why? Or why not?

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