quill.gif (3183 bytes) Swedish Engine Driver's Union v. Sweden . (5614/72) [1976] ECHR 2 (6 February 1976)

Facts: The applicant was the Engine Drivers' Union. In Sweden, the terms of employment and conditions of work of State employees were governed by a collective agreement concluded by the Swedish National Collective Bargaining Office and four federations only. The applicant was not affiliated to any of these federations, but the collective agreement was made directly applicable to it by an accessory agreement which the Office concluded with the applicant earlier. The applicant wished to terminate the accessory agreement and asked for negotiations regarding a new agreement, indicating general guidelines for the negotiations. The Office refused to enter into a collective agreement with the applicant.

Complaint: The applicant union complained that the Swedish National Collective Bargaining Office concluded collective agreements on terms of employment and conditions of work only with certain federations. It claimed that this policy has led to stagnation and a drop in its own membership and violated article 11 of the European Convention.  

Holding: the ECHR did not find any violation of article 11 of the European Convention.

Reasoning: Article 111 did not oblige a Member State to treat trade unions in any particular way. The right to negotiate through collective bargaining was not inherent in the right to form and join a trade union. Article 11(1) obliges public authorities to protect an individual's right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. The members of a trade union have a right that the trade union should be heard i.e. consulted but they are not entitled to negotiate on behalf of their members.

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