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20/12/2016
Norwegian Supreme Court judges that a boycott of Holship was illegal.

European Commission would be ready not to pursue the infringement procedure.


The Norwegian Supreme Court has judged that a boycott of Holship, a freight and logistics company operating in Norwegian ports, was illegal. It considered the action, preventing the company to use own employees for loading and unloading cargo, to be in breach with the provision in the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement on freedom of establishment. The court ruling thereby defined that the EEA agreement takes precedent over ILO Convention 137 on Dock Work and that the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in Norwegian ports is unlawful.

Convention 137 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ratified by Norway, secures dockers’ work, salary and terms and conditions and defines that no worker other than a trained, professional docker can carry out loading and unloading work in ports. Consequently, this judgement will have wider effects for all ports in Norway that are operating under the same legislation.

Chair of the ETF Dockers Section and NTF’s Vice-President Terje Samuelsen defined this judgement to be ‘political’ and said: “Dockers’ right to do dock work has been virtually erased by the court’s ruling. The existing Collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will continue to be in place until the next negotiations in 2018. We are going to discuss within our Confederation, LO, the appropriateness for Norway to remain in the EEA, as there is no gain for workers, when economic freedoms are put before their rights”.

ETF Political Secretary Livia Spera commented: “Once again we see that the liberalisation of dock work is being pursued through court cases. We find this judgement disgraceful not only for Norwegian dockers but for workers all over Europe. Giving priority to economic freedoms over protection of workers’ right is a blind political choice, especially in the backdrop of the long-lasting economic and political crisis. The right answer to populism which is gaining audience everywhere in Europe, should be reinforcing social justice and rights, through legislation and collective bargaining”.

A few hours after the Norwegian judgement the Belgian Minister for Labour, Kris Peeters, communicated that the European Commission would be ready not to pursue the infringement procedure that had been initiated a few years back against the Belgian port labour law.

“If confirmed, this would be encouraging news. We praise the work done by our Belgian affiliates to effectively protect their members and avoid the infringement procedure”, Livia Spera added.

The European Commission is expected to officially adopt the decision to stop the infringement procedure against Belgium early 2017.

 

 

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