Croatia Airlines union: Strike ban endangers workers' rights

Croatia Airlines union: Strike ban endangers workers' rights Izvor: N1(screenshot)

After the Zagreb County Court had on Thursday banned the announced strike in the national flag carrier Croatia Airlines (CA), the CA workers’ union ORCA issued a press release on Friday where they announced they will fight the court’s decision and, if necessary, take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The court explanation for banning the strike was that the unions’ did not negotiate “in good faith” on the signing of a new collective agreement, after the last one had expired in December 2016.

The first round of negotiations took place in March, April and May 2017. After the talks fell through, the ORCA union started the obligatory reconciliation procedure, which was unsuccessful, and a strike was announced for August 8, 2017, the union said in the press release.

That strike was cancelled after the union had met with Transport Minister Oleg Butkovic, and an agreement was signed that the negotiations would be finished by the end of 2017, they said.

In November that year, a new caretaker management was appointed, and a new round of negotiations on the collective agreement fell through at the end of 2017 because the caretaker management refused to negotiate on the possibility that the new collective agreement would be signed for a period longer than one year, the union said, adding that they were promised once again by Minister Butkovic that management would be appointed soon, which, however, did not happen. The union began negotiations on the collective agreement once more, and once more the conditions offered by the caretaker management were unacceptable, after which they again began the, once more unsuccessful, reconciliation procedure. A new strike was announced for August 8, 2018.

CA management filed a lawsuit against the unions, which resulted in the August 9 ruling that the announced strike was illegal, with the explanation that the ORCA union did not negotiate in good faith.

We believe that ruling is illegal and irregular, and we will use all legal means at our disposal to reverse it. The court explanation that the ORCA union did not negotiate in good faith is unacceptable to us because we went through all the legally mandated procedures and negotiated with the caretaker management for a long time. We believe we have fulfilled all the conditions to make sure the strike was legal, the union said.

They warned that the decision creates a dangerous precedent for union activity in Croatia, because all employers can in future claim that a union has approached the negotiations in bad faith, which will make organising any future strike impossible, and reduce workers’ rights.

We will use all the legal means at our disposal, in Croatia as well as abroad – here we primarily refer to the ECHR – in order to reverse this irregular and possibly dangerous decision, in hopes to continue unions’ activity and improving workers’ rights in Croatia, the ORCA union concluded.

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