European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Sweden

15 mars 2017

Sweden: legislation proposal to mitigate the Laval case

The Swedish government has proposed a new law which will again allow trade unions to take industrial action against companies employing detached workers

At the end of 2007, the European Court of Justice issued its ruling on the Laval case. It stated that the Latvian company, Laval, which posted workers to Sweden, was not required to adhere to the collective agreement of the Swedish construction industry.

After this EU Court of Justice ruling, a provision was added to the Posting of Workers Act stating that trade unions were no longer allowed to take industrial action to secure a collective agreement with a foreign company, if that company could prove that its employees already benefitted from the minimum provisions covered by the agreement. The problem is that with the present legislation in Sweden unions have no right to act against an employer who has not entered into a collective agreement, even if it turns out that the employer in question actually provides provisions of a lesser quality than required. 

The bill proposed by the government would allow unions to require foreign companies to conclude a specific collective agreement stating that they follow the minimum provisions of the Swedish collective agreement. If the foreign companies do not conclude a collective agreement, then the trade unions can call for a strike. Additionally, the proposed bill aims to implement the EU’s so-called enforcement directive of 2014, that intends to strengthen implementation of the original Posting of Workers Directive. It is not guaranteed that the government will have the necessary majority for this bill, though, which should be implemented in July 2017 if it is voted through.

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