Judgment No. 4483
The complaint is dismissed.
The complainant contests the “social democracy” reform introduced by decision CA/D 2/14 insofar as it abolished the Local Advisory Committees.
general decision; freedom of association; staff representative; complaint dismissed
The EPO raises, as a threshold issue, whether the complaint is receivable. It can do so notwithstanding that receivability was not raised in the internal appeal, a point relied upon by the complainant in arguing that it cannot be raised now. That is because the issue raised by the EPO is whether the requirements of Article II of the Statute of the Tribunal are met. Necessarily that issue can only arise when a complainant seeks to engage the Tribunal’s jurisdiction. It cannot arise at an earlier time and could not, in any meaningful way, be raised and determined in the internal appeal. In any event, the Tribunal can address the question of its own motion (Judgment 4317, considerations 2 and 3).
ILOAT Judgment(s): 4317
new claim; receivability of the complaint; exception; estoppel
The complainant contends there is a fundamental or inherent right of staff to meaningful consultation, referring to Judgments 1488 and 1062. However, these cases concerned the operation of specific provisions in the Service Regulations and do not establish the fundamental right contended for, nor has it been otherwise recognised by the Tribunal. Insofar as the complainant relies on the alleged violation of this asserted right, his complaint is unfounded.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 1062, 1488
general decision; cause of action; consultation; right
The complainant in these proceedings seeks to impugn decision CA/D 2/14 on the basis that a number of anterior procedural and allied irregularities attended the adoption of the decision and impact on its lawfulness. As noted in another judgment adopted at this session concerning another complainant (see Judgment 4482), these arguments are not available to the complainant in the present proceedings. The complainant cannot approbate and reprobate. The invocation of the right to freely associate upon which he wishes to engage the Tribunal’s jurisdiction renders irrelevant the question whether the decision was legally flawed for the other reasons raised by the complainant in this case. Consequently, there is a legal boundary for arguments the complainant may maintain.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 4482
complaint; freedom of association; procedural flaw
There can be no doubt that effective consultation with staff is a desirable objective recognised in a number of judgments of the Tribunal (see, for example, Judgment 4230). But the right to freely associate fundamentally concerns the right of staff to organise themselves, free of interference from the Administration, in order to advance their collective interests which can also involve advancing individual interests though collectively. Ordinarily that would occur through a staff union or staff association (whether recognised in the rules or not, see Judgment 2672, considerations 9 and 10) and by officials representing those bodies. Those interests will include levels of remuneration and terms and conditions of employment and embrace, without describing matters exhaustively, security of employment, safety in the workplace and post-employment income. A necessary incident of freedom of association is that the staff representatives have an opportunity to discuss staff grievances with the administration of an international organisation even if the opportunity is created by strike action (see, for example, Judgment 4435, consideration 9). While bodies such as the LACs and the GAC provided an avenue for consultation and discussion, it was an avenue outside the framework comprehended by the notion of freedom of association. That is because it was not consultation as part of a broader and integrated process of collectively advancing and protecting the interests of staff through staff unions or staff associations but rather was a singular, discrete and, in this sense, isolated process. As a result of decision CA/D 2/14, LSCs continued in name though fundamental and unlawful changes were made to the manner in which members of LSCs were elected, a matter addressed in another judgment adopted at this session (see Judgment 4482). Nonetheless LSCs were given, by operation of new Article 37 of the Service Regulations, a role at a local level to engage in discussion, on behalf of staff at the local level, about matters including those concerning conditions of employment of those staff. These arrangements are consistent with the right of staff to freely associate, and the abolition of another parallel system of consultation embodied in the LACs did not compromise or deny that right of staff at a local level. In the result, the complainant has not established the abolition of the LACs was unlawful for the reason he advanced.
ILOAT Judgment(s): 2672, 4230, 4435, 4482
staff union; consultation; freedom of association; staff representative