A SWEDISH court has ruled in favor of the Philippine-based United Filipino Seafarers union in its dispute with a Swedish labor group after five years of litigation, records showed.
Group president Nelson Ramirez said the decision was a landmark achievement by the union in Sweden.
The Filipinos had gone to court to complain that the Swedish labor group had forced the owner of a Bahamas-registered ship to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the International Transport-workers Federation, undermining a similar agreement that the ship owner signed with their group.
But the Swedish court ruled on Jan. 25 that the law of a ship’s flag-state and the CBA that the ship owner signed with a foreign labor union overrode the Swedish national law on bargaining agreements for seafarers.
The Bahamian-flagged Rickmers Tianjin, which was time-charted to the Cyprus-registered Double C Shipping Co. by Technomar Shipping Greece, arrived in Lulea, Sweden, on Dec. 2, 2001.
The Swedish Transport Workers’ Union then asked its owner and crew to sign new employment contracts, but the Polish officers and Filipino crew, together with the ship’s owner, refused to sign because they already had an agreement with the Filipino union.
In response, the Swedish union held the ship two days later, on Dec. 4, but the ship’s owner agreed to sign a special agreement with the international labor group to avoid costly delays, since the ship was on time charter.
The ship’s owner then filed a case with the Swedish court.–Michael Caber, Manila Standard