LO får stöd av EFS generalsekreterare i kommande behandling av Vaxholmsfallet i EG-domstolen

Pressmeddelande   •   Okt 07, 2005 14:06 CEST

Med anledning av att EU-kommisionär Charlie McCreevys i onsdags uttalade att EU-kommissionen kommer att agera emot Sverige i den kommande behandlingen av Vaxholmsfallet i EG-domstolen förbereder LO ett förslag till uttalande som ska antas av LOs styrelse.

I ett brev från EFS generalsekreterare John Monks, till EU-kommissionens ordförande José Manuel Barroso, angående McCreevys märkliga uttalanden framgår tydligt att vi har den europeiska fackföreningsrörelsens stöd i frågan.

- Att Kommissionen, liksom en rad andra aktörer, nu agerar på ett sätt som i grunden ifrågasätter både den svenska arbetsmarknadsmodellen och EUs sociala dimension kan leda till ytterst allvarliga konsekvenser på arbetsmarknaden i Sverige och i övriga Europa. Detta står i stark kontrast till de utfästelser och förutsättningar som förelåg när LOs styrelse bedömde resultatet av Sveriges medlemsförhandlingar med EU, säger Erland Olauson, LOs förste vice ordförande.

Brevet till José Barroso

Ann Larsson
Pressekreterare, LO
Tnr: 08-796 26 08 mobil: 070-676 26 08

Brussels, 06 October 2005
Via fax 02 292 14 94
José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
Re: The four Freedoms of the European Union must be developed with full respect for
fundamental workers’ rights, and in particular the right to collective bargaining and
industrial action.

Dear President,
The ETUC has been informed by the media that Commissioner McCreevy, during a visit to
the Swedish capital Stockholm, is said to have expressed his disagreement with the Swedish
system of industrial relations and collective bargaining, as applied to the cross-border
provision of services. In his view, according to the report, this would be an infringement of
the provisions in the EU Treaty with regard to the free movement of services.
Since, indeed, the European Commission is the guardian of the European Treaties, the ETUC
hereby calls on you, as President of the Commission, urgently to clarify if Commissioner
McCreevy has been speaking on behalf of the Commission, and has indeed expressed himself
as reported, and to clarify the position of the Commission with regard to his remarks.
The ETUC herewith wants to remind you, and all Commissioners, that there are more
obligations for the Commission to observe than just the pursuit of the internal market: such as
the obligation to promote social dialogue and subsidiarity with regard to labour law as
enshrined in the Treaty, as well as the fundamental social rights laid down in the Charter of
Fundamental Rights.
Recently, the EU and social partners celebrated 20 years of European Social Dialogue, and all
stakeholders have committed themselves to the importance of social dialogue for the future of
At the same time, however, we now find that the very basic tools for proper social dialogue,
i.e. collective bargaining and industrial action, are put into question.
Citizens and workers, in Sweden as well as in the new Member States, have embarked upon
the enlargement process north and eastwards in the understanding that this would mean
adherence to the values of a social Europe, where economic and social development go hand
in hand, with one of its basic objectives being the levelling upwards of living and working
conditions, and full respect for national industrial relations systems.

They were promised, indeed, that this would lead to economic prosperity and the
improvement of employment opportunities, but not at the expense of workers’ rights.
Those challenging these principles seem to forget that the key to a sustainable internal market
is fair competition.
Fair competition means:
a) a level playing field for companies;
b) fair working conditions and equal treatment for workers.
Commissioner McCreevy, according to his reported speech, has referred to “those who prefer
to stay in a protectionist neverland, pretending that if you lock the door and pull the curtains
the world outside will go away. We know this is a fool’s paradise.”
The ETUC agrees that locking doors and pulling curtains is not the way forward. Some of its
affiliates have been among the most courageous to acknowledge this.
In the recent process of enlargement eastwards, Sweden has played an outstanding role,
deciding – as one of the few among the ‘old’ Member States, together with Mr McCreevy’s
home country Ireland, as well as the UK – to open its borders without barriers for the free
movement of workers. This has been supported by the Swedish trade unions, in the
understanding that their national heritage and tradition of social dialogue, with its longstanding
practice of enforcing labour standards by collective bargaining, industrial action and
social partner activity rather than by law and governmental interference, would be strong
enough to deal with the challenges. Their basic principle is: equal pay for work of equal value
within the remit of their jurisdiction and industrial relations system.
The ETUC challenges the European Commission, rather than denouncing this as “going
against the European Treaty”, to speak out clearly on how they want to see the EU progress in
the direction of open borders and free movement of services and workers.
To be able to prove to Europe’s citizens in the west and east that free movement of services
and workers will be beneficial to them, it is of the utmost importance to show that this will
not lead to a race to the bottom.
To mistake such a race to the bottom as ‘healthy competition’ is very dangerous, and may
feed into feelings of insecurity and fear of change, leading to irrational demands ‘to close the
borders’, and even to racism and xenophobia.
For the ETUC to be able to support a full and coherent implementation of the four freedoms,
equal treatment of workers regardless of their country of origin, and fair competition between
companies based on respect for industrial relations systems and collective bargaining systems
must be enshrined at their heart.
A strong and competitive Europe needs a social dimension to be able to perform, not only in
economic terms but also on behalf of its citizens.
Awaiting an urgent reply,
John Monks
ETUC General Secretary
Cc: Commissioner Charlie McCreevy