Thompsons Solicitors’ reaction to ECJ decision in the Rüffert case03 April 2008
Today’s European Court of Justice ruling that the Posted Workers Directive limits the employment protection which can be provided for in public building and works contracts rides roughshod over workers rights.
Thompsons Solicitors, the UK’s most experienced trade union law firm, say today’s decision in Rϋffert is absurd.
As in the ruling in the Viking and Laval cases last December, the ECJ has said that an employment protection measure such as a clause requiring compliance with collective agreements in a procurement contract is likely to be contrary to EU law if it exceeds the level of protection guaranteed by the Posted Workers Directive.
In other words, workers posted to work to another country by their employer can only expect to receive the protections provided by the directive and not the levels set by collective agreements in the member state to which they are posted.
Richard Arthur, Head of Trade Union Law at Thompsons said:
“This is a absurd logic. The Posted Workers Directive is not intended to set limits on the circumstances in which pay and conditions can be provided for under the law and collective agreements in member states to which workers are posted. It is a gross distortion to suggest that it is.
“It is right and legitimate that workers and trade unions should seek to impose minimum labour standards, such as commitments to abide by rates of pay in collective agreements, in public procurement contracts. They should be permitted, and indeed encouraged to do so in the interest of maintaining national labour standards and preventing social dumping.
“The ECJ’s stance that such minimum standards would undercut the competitive advantage of employers such as the Polish contractor in the Rϋffert case is completely misguided. Employers are already protected by the EC Treaty’s non-discrimination principles. They should not be protected if they seek to obtain competitive advantage by undercutting the industry norms, standards and collective agreements in the member states in which they seek to operate.”