Englund and Others v Sweden (decision), 8 April 1994 [ECtHR]

Case no 15533/89

The applicants complain that the lack of State protection against the industrial actions taken against their employer's restaurant violated their negative freedom of association. They invoke Article 11 of the Convention, read in conjunction with Article 17 (Art. 11+17). (...)

The Commission recalls that Article 11 (Art. 11) must be viewed as encompassing a negative freedom of association, bearing in mind that the Convention must be interpreted in the light of present-day conditions (Eur. Court H.R., Sigurjónsson judgment of 30 June 1993, Series A no. 264, pp. 15-16, para. 35). Permitting every kind of compulsion in the field of trade union membership would strike at the very substance of the freedom Article 11 (Art. 11) is intended to guarantee (Eur. Court H.R., Young, James and Webster judgment of 13 August 1981, Series A no. 44, pp. 21-22, para. 52). For the rights under Article 11 (Art.11) to be effective the State must protect the individual against any abuse of a dominant position by trade unions (ibid., p. 23, para. 55).

Assuming that Article 11 (Art. 11) is applicable in the present case, the Commission observes that the industrial actions against the applicants' employer resulted in the stopping of deliveries to his restaurant and the collection of refuse from it. However, as a result of their employer's refusal to be bound by the relevant collective agreement, the industrial actions did not have the effect of preventing the applicants from remaining unorganised employees, nor did the actions affect the conditions of their employment.

In these particular circumstances the Commission concludes that there has been no failure on the part of the respondent State to actively provide protection to the applicants against interference with their negative freedom of association (cf. Eur. Court H.R., Sibson judgment of 20 April 1993, Series A no. 258-A, p. 14, para. 29).

It follows that this complaint must be rejected as being manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 27 para. 2 (Art. 27-2) of the Convention.

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