Norbert Reich

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

May 2007


labor unions, European Court of Justice


The paper discusses two references before the ECJ concerning the right of social action of labour unions in “old” Member countries (Sweden and Finland) against posting of workers from a company of a “new” Member state (Laval from Latvia) respectively re-flagging a ferry (“Rosella” owned by Viking-Finland ) to a “new” Member country (Estonia). The free movement provisions of Art. 49 and 43 EC are in principle applicable against collective action, unless justified by proportionate social policy reasons. This is denied in Laval because of discriminatory elements in Swedish labour law (Lex Britannia) and non-applicability of the posted workers directive 96/71, but confirmed in Viking which concerns a “normal” and proportional industrial conflict justified on social policy grounds.