Jan Buelens, The effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: the case of Belgium in:

Wolfgang Däubler, Reingard Zimmer (Ed.)

Arbeitsvölkerrecht, page 311 - 323

Festschrift für Klaus Lörcher

1. Edition 2013, ISBN print: 978-3-8487-0674-7, ISBN online: 978-3-8452-4921-6,

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The effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: the case of Belgium Jan Buelens Introduction In this contribution we will start by giving a short overview of the right of collective action in Belgium. Secondly we will examine the importance of international standards and their interpretation by expert bodies with regard to the effectiveness of collective action. Finally we will assess their impact on Belgian case law. The case of Belgium could be a source of inspiration for other countries. Short overview of the right to collective action in Belgium Until 1921 strike participation was subject to criminal prosecution. In 1967 the Court of Cassation decided that strike participation did no longer lead to termination of the employment contract, but instead to suspension of the contract.1 In a judgement of 21 December 1981 the Court of Cassation recognised the right to strike as an individual right of employees.2 This evolution did not prevent employers from trying to use the judiciary as an instrument to settle collective conflicts in their favour. According to the legislature collective conflicts had to be settled by the joint bodies (at the sectoral level). Employers maintained that it was not their intention to settle the conflict itself but only accompanying non-connected circumstances. These separable acts (so-called actes détachables) were considered as actions not connected to the strike itself. This mainly concerns certain means of action, such as blocking the entrance to the company. These means of actions were said to constitute a violation of the employer’s subjective rights, more specifically property rights and the freedom of trade and industry. Quite often it was also maintained that non-strikers had the right to work and that suppliers should be able to deliver to the company. At first the employers addressed the labour tribunals, but these declared themselves incompetent as they are only competent for individual conflicts between employers and employees. In response to this the employers referred the matter to I. II. 1 Cass. 23 November 1967, RCJB 1968, 401-403. 2 Cass. 21 December 1981, RW 1981-82, 2525. the president of the courts of first instance, which intervened. By a special procedure, i.e. the so-called unilateral application procedure, the president of the court was asked to intervene. In this procedure the only party heard is the applicant, usually the employer, and not the employees or trade unions. It was maintained that this procedure was allowed because it was not known who exactly took part in the picket lines. The order issued by the president prohibited numerous types of conduct under penalty of a – quite often considerable – periodic penalty payment. Starting in the mid-1980s this juridification of collective conflicts became very popular. This was due to reasons not pertaining to the law as well as to reasons within the law. The former involved the economic crisis of that period which led to more conflicts. In a 1984 document the Belgian employer organisations referred to the use of unilateral applications as one of the methods to curtail the trade unions’ power. The legally relevant reason was the fact that in 1980 the periodic penalty payment was introduced in Belgian law. These payments did not apply to employment contracts, but by invoking subjective rights the employers could avoid this shortcoming. So although officially the employers wanted to fight certain circumstances separable from strikes, a strike itself was also prohibited in this context. That was the case in 2000 when the Belgian Railways (NMBS/SNCB) submitted a unilateral application in all court districts of the country in order to prevent railway personnel from striking on the occasion of the princely wedding. The last few years unilateral applications have been going far beyond the initial said objectives. It is for instance current practice now to launch a preventive action and ask for a ban on acts that could “hinder the normal performance of the company, either directly or indirectly”. The trade unions for their part submitted comments during the reporting cycles of international organisations. As the legal actions by the employers continued, the Belgian trade unions and the ETUC submitted a collective complaint to the European Committee of Social Rights (ESCR) which monitors compliance with the Revised European Social Charter (RESC). Such a complaint is possible on the basis of the additional protocol of the European Social Charter (ESC). At the end of 2011 the Committee decided on this matter.3 However the question remains whether or not international standards are at all relevant in this area? Can they be of help to penalise the aforementioned practices? 3 Collective complaint No 59/2009. 312 Jan Buelens The importance of international standards and their interpretation by expert bodies with regard to the effectiveness of collective action It could seem surprising that the right to strike is only exceptionally referred to in international standards. Mostly this right is derived from the more general freedom of trade union association. This is the case in Article 8 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 22 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)4, but also in Article 3 ILO Convention No. 87. It took until 2011 before the ECtHR brought the right to collective action under the application of Article 11 of the ECHR.5 So the main source is the RESC. Article 6 (4) RESC establishes the right to collective action as a fundamental right. Even more than the standard itself the interpretation by the ECSR offers an insight in its real scope. On 11 July 2002 the ECSR published its conclusions regarding Belgium in the context of the 16th reporting cycle. These stated unambiguously that Article 6 (4) RESC also relates to peaceful picket lines: “cases where pickets remain peaceful and do not involve any act of physical violence, threat or intimidation”. In the two following cycles the Committee confirmed its point of view explicitly: “The judicial practices at issue are i. judgments, delivered on urgent (civil law) applications, forbidding – with coercive penalties – strike pickets, classed as forcible methods even if the pickets do not engage in any physical violence, threat or intimidation, […] The Committee considers that there is still an incidence of restrictions to the right to strike following from the abovementioned judicial practices that go beyond those permitted by Article 31 of the Charter.” After a collective complaint by the Belgian trade unions and the ETUC the Committee criticised Belgium once again at the end of 2011. In sum the Committee concluded that the restrictions on the right to strike constitute a violation of Article 6 (4) of the RESC, on the ground that they do not fall within the scope of Article G as they are neither prescribed by law nor in keeping with what is necessary to pursue one of the aims set out in Article G.6 The decision refers to the limitations in terms of the content of the right to collective action on the one hand and to the relevant procedural limitations on the other. Regarding the content of the right to collective action, the use of violence or intimidation continues to be the distinguishing criterion. Moreover, only if and after III. 4 Macklem, P., “The right to bargain collectively” in Alston, P. (ed.), Labour rights as human rights, Oxford-New York, Oxford university press, 2005, 72. 5 ECtHR 21 April 2009, No 68959/01, Enerji Yapi-Yol Sen/Turkey. 6 It is worthwhile mentioning that a dissenting opinion of four experts was appended to this decision. When judging the merits of the case they came to the same conclusion, notably that there was a violation of Article 6 (4) of the RESC. Effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: Belgium 313 it has been proved that the strikers were guilty of these acts these actions could be forbidden. So preventive action is not possible. As regards employees who want to work it is important to observe that a blockade does not oblige them to take part in the strike. The fact that they cannot carry out their work does not mean that they can be qualified as strikers. 7 As for the procedural limitations, the unilateral application cannot be considered as a fair procedure. The restriction to the right to strike following from this cannot be qualified as “prescribed by law” and is therefore a violation of Article 6 (4) RESC.8 This decision is in keeping with previous decisions. Neither did the Committee indicate that it had reconsidered previous decisions. As for the ILO, its Convention No. 87 can be regarded as a core labour convention. Just as in the case of the RESC the interpretation of this convention by expert bodies offers a real insight in its scope. For the ILO this is even more important, given the fact that, as we observed above, the right to strike is not guaranteed expressis verbis. As Belgium has ratified the conventions in question there will be regular supervision by the Committee of Experts on the Application of ILO Conventions and Recommendations (usually referred to as the Committee of Experts). Apart from this the interpretation is mainly done through the Freedom of Association Committee which regularly publishes the so-called Digest.9 The ILO judges pickets in the same way as the ECSR. GERNIGON, ODERO and GUIDO state in this respect: “As a matter of fact pickets can be considered as a modality of the right to strike (…)in practice these actions are rarely questioned, apart from the exceptional cases of violence toward persons or damage to goods (…) the restrictions on pickets must be limited to those cases in which the actions lose their peaceful character.”.10 Furthermore, on 13 November 2007 the UN Commission monitoring the compliance with the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural rights had some critical comments for Belgium: 7 Dorssemont, F., Libre propos sur la légitimité des requêtes unilatérales contre l’exercice du droit à l’action collective à la lumière de la décision du Comité européen des droits sociaux (réclamation collective n° 59/2009), in X, Actions orphelines et voies de recours en droit social, Limal, Anthémis, 2012, 141. 8 On this aspect, see Neven, J.-F., “Les piquets de grève, la procédure sur requête unilatérale et les pouvoirs du juge des référés après la décision du Comité européen des droits sociaux du 13 septembre 2011”, RDS 2012, 389-428. 9 ILO, Digest of decisions and principles of the Freedom of Association Committee of the Governing Body of the ILO, Geneva, ILO, 2006, 275p. In the latest Digest, i.e issue 2006 paragraphs 520-676 deal with the right to strike. 10 Gernigon, B./Odero, A./ Guido, H., Les principes de l’OIT sur le droit de grève, Revue internationale du travail, volume 137, No. 4, 1998, p. 500. 314 Jan Buelens “17. The Committee notes with concern the significant obstructions to the exercise of the right to strike, arising from the practice of employers to start legal proceedings in order to obtain a ban on certain strike-related activities, as well as from the possibility that workers may be dismissed as a result of their participation in a strike. (…) 31. The Committee urges the State party to ensure the correct implementation by employers of its legislation on the right to strike, so as to guarantee its consistency in law and practice with the provisions of Article 8 of the Covenant.” Last but not least there is another Council of Europe instrument that needs mentioning, notably the ECHR which by its Article 11 protects the right to freedom of association. The jurisprudence based on Article 11 has recently become more favourable to trade union applicants. Apart from relying on ILO standards to interpret the content of Article 11 ECHR, the European Court of Human Rights now also has regard for the RESC.11 Rather prophetically, Professor EWING wrote early 2008: “The important role of ILO Conventions and the Social Charter in developing the content of Article 11 of the ECHR is not to be under-estimated, for this is a development that provides an opportunity to give indirect legal effect to treaty obligations that are otherwise easily ignored by national governments.”12 A Belgian author has pointed out that the blockade of an entrance could also be protected by virtue of Article 10 ECHR.13 So international law is quite consistent regarding limitations of the right to collective action. To what extent this is taken over by Belgian case law will be discussed below. The impact of international standards and their interpretation by expert bodies on Belgian case law If we want to assess the impact of the aforementioned norms and their interpretation on Belgian case law, we have to start by pointing out that prima facie the Belgian legislation on the right to strike was developed independently from international standards. In the judgement of 31 January 1997 the Court of Cassation refused to annul a judgement by the Brussels Court of Appeal.14 In the ruling by the Brussels Court of Appeal of 14 January 1994 the undertaking concerned claimed that the free IV. 11 Clearly demonstrated in the ECtHR judgement of 12 November 2008 Demir and Baykara, [2008] ECHR 1345. 12 Ewing, K.D., Trade Union Protection in the Framework of the ILO, Brussels, Progress Lawyers Network, 2008. 13 Humblet, P., Grondrechten in de onderneming, in Rigaux, M./ Van Eeckhoutte, W. (eds.), Actuele problemen van het arbeidsrecht 5, Ghent, Mys & Breesch, 1997, No. 731. 14 Cass. 31 January 1997, RW 1997-98, 605. Effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: Belgium 315 entrance to the distribution centre had been blocked. First and foremost the Court of Appeal established that there was no proof of this. In a very important, alternative line of reasoning the Court answered that, in principle, the setting up of pickets does not exceed the right to strike, unless these pickets are guilty of acts of violence toward goods and persons. This judgement was confirmed by the Court of Cassation. What counts in this respect is that Professor Jamoulle links the judgement to the abovementioned criticism on Belgium by the ECSR.15 Incidentally, four years later, referring to Jamoulle, the president of the Nivelles Court of First Instance will for the first time refer to international norms: “(…) the fact should be recalled that the European Social Charter has a control mechanism, with as its most important body a committee of independent experts who were requested to assess the Belgian courts that impose periodic penalty payments on anyone who would take part in pickets qualified as acts of violence. This committee observes that such judicial practices are of such a nature that they counteract the exercise of the right to strike and go beyond the limitations established in Article 31 of the Charter. Belgian doctrine draws the following lesson from the conclusions of the committee: the committee denounces implicitly the theory of separable acts which is the basis of the Belgian case law in summary proceedings: the pickets are not considered to damage a subjective right, but are part of the right to strike itself… Therefore the qualification as act of violence of such gatherings, if these are not accompanied by threats or violence, cannot be used. This point of view has a certain similarity to the judgement by the Brussels Court of Appeal which the Court of Cassation refused to annul.” Until 2008 this decision16 remained the only one in which a reference to international norms was included. However, neither of these references detracted from the fact that employers made ample use of injunctions by the presidents of the courts of first instance to prohibit certain strike-related facts. Usually, the presidents of the courts of first instance did not bother to take heed of international norms. Not surprisingly that in 2008 DEMEZ spoke about “la faible perméabilité du droit belge au droit international”. Even though, five years later, on the whole we can agree with the conclusion by DEMEZ, some changes have set in. These changes did not appear out of the blue. After a big department stores chain had made massive use of the unilateral application procedure in a highly mediatised conflict the trade unions had had enough. So in 2008 they decided collectively to start judicial procedures (in the past they had not done so because these procedures 15 Jamoulle, M., Le droit de la grève en Belgique: évolutions et perspectives, Chron.Soc. 2003, 372. 16 President of the Nivelles Court of First Instance 13 February 2007, 07/25/C, not published. 316 Jan Buelens are usually too late anyway as the conflict will have been finished by then…).17 This plan of action had results. On 2 June 2009 the Nivelles Court of First Instance repeated the motivation it used in its 2007 judgement.18 In a case of dismissal for just cause as a result of strike international norms were also invoked. But in this case the matter was dealt with by a labour tribunal. In the judgement of 5 November 2009 the Brussels Labour Court19 started from the observance that national courts cannot but be divided about what is socially acceptable. For that reason it took the view that international law had to be taken as guidance. This means that the validity of the right to strike can only be assessed in the context of international human rights treaties. In applying these treaties, the Court was right in stating that pickets can only be considered to be unlawful from the moment they are accompanied by criminal offences, such as bodily harm, disturbance of the public order or other criminal conduct. In a recent judgement of 28 November 2012 the Mons Court of Appeal went along with the motivation of the Brussels Labour Court. It went for a procedural approach by stating that the employer had not given proof that he had not been able to start a procedure where both parties are heard.20 For the same reasons the president of the Antwerp Court of First Instance also denounced unilateral applications while at the same time criticising these applications as a violation of procedural justice, which is a reference to the decision of the European Committee of Social Rights.21 In sharp contrast to the above there are still plenty of orders for interim measures on unilateral application. Worth mentioning in this respect are most of the orders by the president of the Brussels Court of First Instance. This Court, referring to Article 6 (4) ESC, does recognise that the right to strike is a fundamental right but immediately adds that “blockades are not part of a normal exercise of the right to strike (Article 31 ESC)”22 and subsequently orders all kinds of measures against strikers. This standard wording is a sign of ignorance (or is it obstinacy?) to apply international law correctly. 17 Indeed, the appeal against this unilateral procedure cannot be considered as an effective remedy as it takes place at the moment that the collective action has been broken because of the order regarding periodic penalty payments). This situation is highly questionably from a legal point of view, more in particular from the point of view of (a combination of) Articles 6, 10, 11 and 13 of the ECHR. 18 President of the Nivelles Court of First Instance 2 June 2009, 08/511/8C, not published. 19 Brussels Labour Court 5 November 2009, JTT 2010, 141. 20 Mons 28 November 2012, JTT 2013, 57. 21 President of the Antwerp Court of First Instance 15 June 2012, as cited in Antwerp Court of Appeal 29 June 2012, AR 2012/1867, 22 In this respect we should mention that ever since the entry into force of the RESC on 1 May 2004 Article 31 is referred to as Article G. Effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: Belgium 317 In his PhD thesis Dorssemont had already pointed out that the RESC in no way aims at regulating or defining the exercise of fundamental rights. Article G RESC aims at regulating the restrictions, rather than the rights themselves.23 It may be assumed that the presence of a peaceful picket at the entrance of a private company in itself does not constitute a threat for the public order, national safety, public health or morality.24 That maintaining the order in public places in principle does not implicate a restriction of the right to strike had already been confirmed by the Belgian Minister of Internal Affairs: “In this regard I want to make it clear that the practice of striking, including the setting up of pickets, demonstrations or any other forms of action, including on the public highway, as such does not imply that the public order is or has been disturbed. However, this is the case if the action consists of acts of violence toward persons or goods or if an action jeopardises the safety of persons or goods or if the chance of this happening is likely.”25 The restriction on the basis of “the rights and freedoms of others” is not relevant either. The ground for limiting the “rights and freedoms of others” must be interpreted restrictively so as to prevent the exception from becoming the rule. According to authorative doctrine the restriction of “the rights and freedoms of others” mainly relates to public services. Only if there is a real danger of the company being ruined by the collective actions, it could invoke this provision.26 So mere damage to the interests of third parties does not produce a sufficient ground for limiting the actions. “Any other conclusion”, according to F. Dorssemont, “cannot be regarded as anything else than a sign of a curious ambition to interpret the ESC’s grounds for limitation, which were conceived as means against the erosion of human rights, in an extremely extensive manner.” Therefore an employer cannot invoke his own interests to ask the courts to disregard the right to collective action by means of the exception of “rights and freedoms of others”.27 This principle was also accepted by the ECSR.28 Indeed, by its very nature the right to collective action aims at damaging the interests of the targeted company. 23 Dorssemont, F., Rechtspositie en syndicale actievrijheid van representatieve werknemersorganisaties, Bruges, die Keure, 2002, 514. 24 Opinion X-1, 1987, p. 143; Harris, D., The European Social Charter, 1984, 277; Tilstra, L., Grenzen aan het stakingsrecht, Kluwer, Deventer, 1994, 211. 25 Questions and answers Senate, 10 May 1994, No 107, Question No 470 by Mr Valkeniers, 13 January 1994. 26 Jaspers, T., The Right to Collective Action in European Law, in Dorssemont, F./ Jaspers, T./ Van Hoek, A. (eds.), Cross-Border Collective Actions in Europe: A Legal Challenge, Antwerp-Oxford, Intersentia, 2007, 56. 27 Dorssemont, F., Rechtspositie en syndicale actievrijheid van representatieve werknemersorganisaties, Bruges, die Keure, 2002, 557. 28 Opinion XVI-1; see also the similar position in the subsequent country reports XVII-1 and XVIII-1. 318 Jan Buelens The fact that the right to collective action also includes the possibility to set up pickets can also be deduced from the nature of the right itself. Indeed, the weapon of collective action is a lever used to influence the attitude of an employer (or third parties) by hurting his (their) economic activities.29 To do so it is necessary to stop (peacefully) the company’s activities by withdrawing the factor labour from the company. This action can only be successful if the worker is not immediately replaced by another worker. If the employer can replace the employee concerned during the strike, the employer does not suffer any damage and will have no interest whatsoever to take part in collective bargaining or even in listening to the demands of the trade unions. Although the legislature has intervened in order to prevent this kind of blacklegging, this intervention is far from complete. The ban on replacements during a strike is restricted to the use of temporary agency workers and workers with replacement contracts.30 There is not only the question as to the scope of this provision31, but for instance also as to the lack of regulations with regard to the use of sub-contractors.32 In some conflicts the court accepted that the trade union had no other efficient means than a blockade of the company.33 Finally, the distinction between peaceful and violent picketing is not always crystal clear. DORSSEMONT observes the following: “The question arises as to whether such a classification is entirely sound. It seems to us that this is more a way of presenting two ideal types of extremes of a continuum. The question is what exactly is meant by violence. The courts are wary of the mere threat of violence and intimidation of non-strikers. It remains unclear how a situation involving employees who hinder access to a company, just by their presence, should be assessed. Is their refusal to step aside for non-strikers a form of violence or only of peaceful resistance?”.34 In the case of a peaceful picket the violence does not usually originate with the (passive) strikers but with those trying to remove the picket, in the course of which they use physical violence against persons and goods.35 29 Dorssemont, F., Rechtspositie en syndicale actievrijheid van representatieve werknemersorganisaties, Bruges, die Keure, 2002, 515. 30 Article 8 Collective Labour Agreement No 58 and Article 11ter Law of 3 July 1978 on the employment contract. 31 Humblet, P./ Vanthournout, J., Uitzendarbeid en staking: behoefte aan een duidelijke(r) regeling, RW 2006-2007, 374-377. 32 See for the distinction between temporary agency work and subcontracting, my PhD thesis: Buelens, J., Collectief overleg in (onder)aannemingsverhoudingen, Brugge, die Keure, 2012, 89-124 (a summary of this thesis on collective consultation in (sub)contracting relations can be found on 33 See for instance President of the Liège Court of First Instance 1 June 2011, 11/427/C, not published. 34 Dorssemont, F., Rechtspositie en syndicale actievrijheid van representatieve werknemersorganisaties, Bruges, die Keure, 2002, 487. 35 Brewaeys, E./ Dorssemont, F./ Salomez, K., Rechterlijke tussenkomst bij collectieve conflicten”, NJW 2003, 552. Effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: Belgium 319 In the Belgian case law of the lower national courts as well as in the legal doctrine the legitimacy of company blockades had been accepted long before the judgement of the Court of Cassation of 31 January 1997. In an article published in 1987, the then young author ENGELS observes the following: “[…] Taking part in the practice consisting of preventing non-strikers from entering the company or parts of the company is not considered to be unlawful. Therefore it is not reprehensible. The presence of a picket at the entrance of company can be regarded as a call for solidarity from the other employees. Its aim is to act on the non-strikers’ conscience on the one hand and to discourage them from breaking the picket line on the other [...]”36 In that sense: “a picket [is] also necessary to concretise the right to strike of the individual employee. The attitude of some employers vis-à-vis strikes is such that an employee who wants to take part in a strike is only able to do so if he/she can take refuge behind the picket. If he/she participates in a strike without a picket, this will not be to his/her employer’s liking. Perhaps the employer will not take immediate reprisals, but he/she may very well diminish the employee’s chances of promotion. In these circumstances an employee can only strike if he/she can pretend that he/she was willing to work and tells his/her employer that the intimidation exerted by the picket was such that he/she did not dare to do so.”37 The aforementioned case law and doctrine are still highly relevant. Concluding remarks In times of economic crisis the right to collective action is even more important in order to prevent the rights of employees from being dismantled rapidly. The right to collective action involves more than going on strike. If this kind of interpretation does not continue to be upheld, striking itself runs the risk of being prohibited. In procedures employers pretend that this is not their aim, but for those reading between the lines the evolution is clear. Whereas at present such a ban on strikes is still rather anecdotal, it could develop towards a rule. And then there will only be striking the Japanese way, i.e. working with a black armband. Currently employers clearly want to limit the content and influence of international law. Not quite by accident something unusual regarding labour law happened V. 36 Engels, C., Staking en Lock-out: enkele gevolgen ten aanzien van de individuele arbeidsovereenkomst, in Blanpain, R./ De Broeck, G./ Engels, C. (eds.), Werkstaking, Lock-out en arbeids- en socialezekerheidsrecht, Antwerp, Kluwer rechtswetenschappen, 1988, 73-74 with numerous references to case law and doctrine. 37 Vanachter, O., De tussenkomst van de rechter bij collectieve arbeidsgeschillen”, RDS 1995, 25; in the same vein Petit, J., “Gaat de rechter werkstakingen verbieden?, Or. 1993, 237 who argues that if a majority of employees supports the strike access can be barred because an individual employee could benefit from the objectives aimed at. 320 Jan Buelens in June 2012. The employer representatives refused to discuss the violations of ILO Convention No 87. They basically argued that the expert committees had unjustly brought the right to strike under the scope of ILO Convention No 87. This is a risky situation. The situation is ad odds with the fact that since decades the ILO Conventions were subject to interpretation. Therefore the refusal is nothing more than an attack on the ILO itself. So an appropriate response is vital for the survival of this organisation. In the same line of reasoning one will understand the very recent Belgian employer organisations' advice to the Belgian authorities not to ratify the additional protocol to the ICESCR.38 In order to avoid this kind of evolution it is of the utmost importance that employee movements and progressive labour lawyers invoke as much as possible the international norms and interpretations before the national courts, while at the same time pleading and sharpening their contents at the international level. I am convinced that Klaus LÖRCHER will continue to be an important ally in this respect, just as he has always been in an excellent way, for which many, among whom myself, are very grateful to him. 38 The advice No. 1837 of 26 February 2013 can be consulted on the website http://www.cnt. be/avis-en-cours.htm. There is a clear reference to the right to strike and the collective complaint 59/2009 on page 5. Effectiveness of collective action in the light of international standards: Belgium 321 V. Arbeitsrechtlicher Grundrechtsschutz im Mehrebenensystem 3. Verzahnung des Rechts der Europäischen Union mit den Normen der Internationalen Arbeitsorganisation bzw. dem Recht des Europarats

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Die wachsende Bedeutung des internationalen Arbeitsrechts schlägt sich in vielen Bereichen nieder: Tarifautonomie und Streikrecht werden durch die Rechtsprechung des EGMR mitbestimmt, die ILO-Übereinkommen stellen einen Mindeststandard dar, der auch in einer Wirtschaftskrise nicht unterschritten werden darf. Nicht jeder nationale Gesetzgeber und nicht jedes Gericht hat dies aber bisher erkannt. Von daher ergeben sich viele Kontroversen, in Deutschland u. a. bei der Kündigung kirchlicher Mitarbeiter und bei der überlangen Dauer gerichtlicher Verfahren deutlich werden.

Die insgesamt 35 Autoren sind in der Wissenschaft, aber auch in internationalen Organisationen, in Ministerien und als Richter tätig. Der Band verbindet Theorie und Praxis; als Leser bekommt man nicht nur Stoff zum Nachdenken, sondern nicht selten auch ganz konkrete Handlungsanleitungen. Bislang gibt es kein vergleichbares Buch in der rechtswissenschaftlichen Literatur.