EUROPEAN REVIEW

European Review logo

ISSUE 72 page 6

Euromap  cyprus= Croatia Switzerland Iceland Serbia Russia Turkey Norway Slovenia Ireland Sweden Portugal Spain Belgium Germany Poland Italy Greece Czech Republic Austria France Denmark Netherlands Finland Estonia Malta Hungary Ukraine Slovakia Latvia Luxembourg Lithuania Romania Bulgaria Albania Macedonia Moldova Liechtenstein

Choose a country to take your mouse,clicking on most will show an article on that country

 

Recent rulings from the European Courts

Finnish case throws light on bogus union
A court case from Finland has highlighted the links between private equity companies, often based in tax havens, and ‘house’ trade unions which are fronts for rogue employers to reduce wages. From 2009 the free-sheet newspaper and mailshot distribution business in Finland was subject to a collective agreement which bound companies in the sector. However some employers, led by the Janton Corporation, were unhappy with this and decided to set up their own trade union. Strangely the SME union had no office, no reps., no funding and conducted no activities other than agreeing terms and conditions of work with the companies.  At this it was highly successful, perhaps not surprisingly as its ruling body was composed of directors from the Janton Corporation. Equally predictably the new ‘agreement’ cut pay to a level of €2-3 an hour, way below the previous arrangement. The deal with the bona-fide Finnish Post and Logistics Union (PAU)  guaranteed a minimum salary of approximately €8  per hour. The Helsinki Court of Appeal has now overturned a previous judgement and ruled that SME cannot be seen as a representative trade union with a right to conduct collective bargaining. Janton and the other companies must now abide by the valid agreement. They were quick to seek leave to appeal the decision at the country’s Supreme Court claiming that 14,000 jobs would be lost and 60 companies disappear. However, although PAU maintain that Janton is making a hefty profit, €33 million between 2007 and 2011, it has found it difficult to come up with more detailed figures as the firm is owned by private equity fund Argan Capital which has its headquarters in London but is registered in Jersey. All attempts to track its activities and book-keeping disappear in the tax haven. It is known that the company paid tax at 3% over the four years when Finland’s corporate tax rate was 26%.

Ryanair v unions moves to Denmark
Wizz Air found guilty of discrimination in Romania
Dublin-based low-cost airline Ryanair has another notch in its litigation belt. Following cases in France and Ireland and strikes in Spain and Italy (see many past issues) Denmark is the latest country whose trade unions have felt the need to oppose its labour practices. Announcing the start of operations in Copenhagen in March the company was faced with protesters on the runway and bans by local councils on using its flights. This was because, by claiming that its workers are under Irish law, it proposed a rate of pay far below the Danish norm plus the usual lack of sickness benefit and need for aircrews to buy their own uniforms. Now the Flight Personnel Union (FPU) has won a decision in the Danish Labour Court which allows not only their own industrial action but secondary boycotts. This means that there will be no refuelling of aeroplanes or baggage loading by seven other unions. François Ballestero of the European Transport Federation (ETF) commented ‘This judgement together with judgements from other EU countries are paving the way for decent wages and good working conditions for Ryanair’.
Another low-cost airline seems to be following the Ryanair route. Wizz Air has been ordered by a Romanian court to reinstate Mircea Constantin, the founder of the Aerolimit union. Mr. Constantin and 19 fellow members were dismissed in November with the Wizz Air CEO vowing not to accept any trade union in his company. Now he must pay a €6,000 fine, publish the decision in national media and compensate Mircea with his lost wages after the Ilfov court said that the sackings were discriminatory and had the intention of destroying the union. Gabriel Mocho of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) stressed that ‘Respect for the right to organise is fundamental. It is unacceptable that airlines are trying to get competitive advantage by not respecting the law’.




Top of page

 

 


 

 cyprus= Croatia Switzerland Iceland Serbia Russia Turkey Norway Slovenia Ireland Sweden Portugal Spain Belgium Germany Poland Italy Greece Czech Republic Austria France Denmark Netherlands Finland Estonia Malta Hungary Ukraine Slovakia Latvia Luxembourg Lithuania Romania Bulgaria Albania Macedonia Moldova Liechtenstein