European Commission proposal to restrict right to strike is “grave error”

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) today condemned the European Commission’s proposal to restrict the right to strike in air traffic control.

It demanded that the Commission removes all references to restricting the right to strike from its initiative on “Aviation: open and connected Europe” published on June 8.

The Commission proposal included

  • Unions to provide early notification of strikes
  • Staff members to provide individual notification of participation in industrial action
  • Overflights of member states affected by strikes to be continued
  • Avoiding strikes at peak air traffic periods

The right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by European and international law” said Esther Lynch ETUC Confederal Secretary. “Restricting the right to strike is undemocratic, unacceptable and completely contrary to President Juncker’s often-stated ambition to create a triple A social Europe.”

Negotiations and agreements between workers and employers are only possible if workers have the power to strike if they choose. Without that right all power is with the employer. The European Commission is making a serious error in proposing this restriction of workers’ rights.”

In a letter sent today to President Juncker, Vice-President Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Thyssen and Bulc, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini points out that the Commission recently refused to include the right to strike in the proposed European Pillar of Social Rights, because it does not fall under the EU competence! It also protests that trade unions were not consulted, and that some of the recommendations are contrary to national Constitutions and laws.

The letter accuses the Commission of “always coming up with detailed recommendations like this only to limit and dismantle social rights (like right to strike, collective bargaining, protection in labour market, adequacy of pensions, etc.), and never to promote and reinforce the very same rights.”

A resolution today adopted by the Executive Committee of the ETUC concludes “The Commission has to decide if it is for or against Social Europe.”

Both letter and resolution call on the proposal to restrict the right to strike in air traffic control to be withdrawn. The ETUC is working with the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and national unions to remove this threat to workers’ rights.