Sanchez Navajas v Spain (decision), 21 June 2001 [ECtHR]

Case no 57442/00

2.  The applicant further complained that the mayor’s decision to deduct from his salary the fifteen hours’ paid leave that had been granted to him for trade-union activities violated his right to trade-union freedom, as guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention ...

The Court notes that while Article 11 § 1 presents trade-union freedom as one form or a special aspect of freedom of association, the Article does not secure any particular treatment of trade union members by the State, such as the right to enjoy certain benefits, for example, in matters of remuneration. Such benefits are not indispensable to the effective enjoyment of trade-union freedom and do not constitute an element necessarily inherent in a right guaranteed by the Convention (see, mutatis mutandis, Schmidt and Dahlström v. Sweden, 6 December 1976, Series A no. 21, § 34). The Court nevertheless considers that it may infer from Article 11 of the Convention, read in the light of Article 28 of the European Social Charter (Revised), that workers’ representatives should as a rule, and within certain limits, enjoy appropriate facilities to enable them to perform their trade-union functions rapidly and effectively. In the present case, the Spanish courts considered that the time spent by the applicant in studying the new legislation on trade-union elections could not be considered as forming part of purely trade-union activities for which he could be paid in his capacity as a staff representative. For that reason, a corresponding amount was deducted from his pay. The Court notes that the applicant has not shown why it was imperative for him to study the new legislation in order to be able to perform his duties as a trade-union representative of the council employees effectively. It therefore considers that the decision challenged by the applicant cannot be regarded as constituting an interference in the exercise of his right to trade-union freedom; the contested measure did not attain such a degree of gravity as to affect the right guaranteed by Article 11 § 1 of the Convention substantially.

It follows that this part of the application must be dismissed as being manifestly ill-founded, pursuant to Article 35 § 3 of the Convention.

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