EC gives show of moral support to Latvia

  • 2005-10-12
  • Staff and wire reports to Latvia
European Commissioner for Internal Markets and Services Charlie McCreevy said last week that the commission was opposed to the stance of Swedish trade unions in their conflict with Latvia's Laval and Partners.
McCreevy told Latvian journalists that the European Commission's position regarding the case was quite clear - no EU member state should be allowed to discriminate against other members.

He stressed that the free movement of services was one of the basic freedoms of the EU and an integral part in the EU's economy, and this principal appears to have been violated by Swedish labor unions.

Laval and Partners is a construction company that was forced to cease its contractual obligations after Swedish trade unions barred Latvian laborers hired by the company from entering the work area.

The unions demanded that the Latvians, who were being paid considerably less than their Swedish colleagues, sign a collective labor agreement. Laval and Partners refused, saying such an agreement would result in higher project costs and therefore make the contract pointless.

The case crystalized the whole concept of labor migration among the EU25, and in Sweden, which prior to the incident had opted to place no restrictions on imported labor. McCreevy said that Laval and Partners had filed with the European Court of Justice and the court was due to hear the two sides' arguments.

Laval and Partners aims to show that the trade union has breached provisions of the EU law on free movement of services and labor.

The local authority in February formally terminated the contract with Laval and Partners. Laval and Partners company in Sweden, L and P Baltic Bygg, filed for bankruptcy early in April.