The European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) will hold its 263rd Session from March 18-23, 2013, during which it will hear thirteen collective complaints and examine States’ reports on compliance with certain articles of the European Social Charter. [ECSR Agenda] Additionally, the Committee will hold a meeting about non-accepted provisions of the Charter and exchange views with the Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks.
Consideration of Collective Complaints during the 263rd Session
The Committee will hear a variety of complaints, described below, including different claims of discrimination, violations of trade union rights, social security and other forms of social welfare, and women’s access to abortion. For a full list of collective complaints with descriptions and links to submitted documents, see the List of Complaints and State of Procedure.
Fellesforbundet for Sjøfolk (FFFS) v. Norway
The Norwegian United Seamen’s Union claims that a Norwegian law allowing termination of employment once a seamen reaches the age of 62 amounts to age discrimination in violation of Article E (prohibition of discrimination) in combination with violations of Article 1 (right to work) and Article 24 (right to protection in cases of termination of employment) of the European Social Charter.
European Action of the Disabled (AEH) v. France
Alleging that France has failed to properly educate autistic students by withholding schooling and failing to provide specialized or vocational training for autistic persons, the AEH claims that France has violated Article E (prohibition of discrimination) in combination with violations of Article 10 (right to vocational training) and Article 15 (rights of persons with disabilities to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community) of the Charter.
European Committee for Home-based Priority Action for the Child and the Family (EUROCEF) v. France
Where France denied family allowances to families with children who were truant at school, EUROCEF claims France is discriminating against those families in violation of Article E in combination with Article 16 (right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection for the family) and Article 30 (right to protection against poverty and social exclusion) of the Charter.
European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) v. Ireland
EuroCOP claims that Ireland does not grant it full trade union rights because it bars police associations from joining umbrella organizations, thereby preventing them from participating in national salary negotiations, in alleged violation of Articles 5 (right to organize), 6 (right to bargain collectively) and 21 (right to information and consultation) of the European Social Charter.
Union syndicale des magistrats administratifs (USMA) v. France (French only)
French administrative judges claim that the compensation rate for unused vacation time on time-saving accounts fails to take into account increased remuneration rates for overtime work in violation of Article 4§2 (right to increased rate of remuneration for overtime work) of the Charter.
Swedish Trade Union Confederation and Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees v. Sweden
Subsequent to the European Court of Justice’s decision in Laval un Partneri Ltd v Svenska Byggnadsarbetareförbundet and Others, which stated that Swedish workers’ collective actions that forced another Member State corporation into trade union negotiations were not compatible with the free movement of services, the Swedish legislature adopted provisions restricting the rights of workers to take collective action directed towards employers, particularly those outside Sweden, who post workers to Sweden. Workers claim this is a violation of Articles 5 (right to organize), 6 (right to collectively bargain), and 21 (right to information and consultation) of the Charter.
Finnish Society of Social Rights v. Finland
The Finnish Society of Social Rights claims that Finland has violated the Charter’s Article 12 (right to social security) for failing to maintain a satisfactory level and progressively raise social security for over 20 years.
Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE) v. Ireland
FAFCE claims that Ireland has not taken the necessary and appropriate measures to protect child victims of human trafficking by failing to investigate and prosecute offenders under its anti-trafficking law, in violation of Article 17 (right of mothers and children to social and economic protection) of the Charter.
Conference of European Churches (CEC) v. The Netherlands
Alleging that the Netherlands has not met its obligation to ensure the rights of undocumented adults to food, shelter, and clothing both in law and in practice, the CEC claims that the State is in violation of Articles 13§4 (right to social and medical assistance) and 31§2 (right to shelter).
Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro (CGIL) v. Italy (Italian only)
The applicants assert that Article 9 of Law no. 194 of 1978, which allows medical practitioners to conscientiously object to performing terminations of pregnancies, violates Article 11 (right to health) read alone or in conjunction with Article E (prohibition of discrimination) because it does not protect a woman’s right of access to an abortion. CGIL also claims the law violates Articles 1 (right to work), 2 (right to just conditions of work), 3 (right to safe and healthy working conditions), and 26 (right of dignity at work), read alone or in conjunction with Article E for failing to protect the rights of workers involved in terminating pregnancies.
Additionally, the Committee will hold another hearing in International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPF EN) v. Italy, which concerns the practical effects of Article 9 of Law no. 194 of 1978, mentioned above, where the complainants also claim a violation of Article 11 (right to health) read alone or in conjunction with Article E (prohibition of discrimination) for infringing upon a woman’s right to access an abortion. The hearing comes after IPPF EN responded to Italy’s submissions on the merits. European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) v. the Netherlands will also once again go before the Committee following the complainants’ response to the Netherlands’ submission on admissibility and the merits. FEANTSA claims that the Netherlands’ failure to adequately provide for the homeless population constitutes violations of Articles 13 (right to social and medical assistance), 16 (right of the family to social, legal and economic protection), 17 (right of children and young persons to social, legal and economic protection), 19 (right of migrant workers and their families to protection and assistance), 30 (right to protection against poverty and social exclusion), and 31 (right to housing) in conjunction with Article E of the Charter. For more information on both of these cases, see IJRC’s previous posting.
State Reporting and Conclusions
The Committee will also review National Reports and draft Conclusions regarding States’ compliance with their Charter commitments. During this session, the Committee will review Articles 3 (right to safe and healthy working conditions), 11 (right to protection of health), 12 (right to social security), 13 (right to social and medical assistance), 14 (right to benefit from social welfare services), 23 (right to take part in the determination and improvement of working conditions and working environment), and 30 (right to protection against poverty and social exclusion). [ECSR Agenda] Finland, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Slovak Republic, and Ireland are required to submit reports for this session. Id.
Meetings on Non-Accepted Provisions
Pursuant to Article 22 of the European Social Charter, which governs non-accepted provisions of the Charter, States that have ratified the Charter must report on non-accepted provisions every five years after the date of ratification. [ECSR Non-Accepted Provisions] This year, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sweden will report on their non-accepted provisions. Turkey is scheduled to report in May 2013.