Key facts of the case:
In 2004, the company Mono Car Styling (‘Mono Car’) went through a difficult period as a result of a sharp decline in orders and decided to reduce its workforce by way of collective redundancies. An agreement with its workers’ representatives, which fixed the number of redundancies at 30 and contained specific measures of compensation and support for the workers concerned was reached. The main proceedings arose from an action brought on an individual basis by 21 workers. Their cause of action was an alleged failure by Mono Car to observe certain procedural requirements laid down in the collective redundancies legislation. The referring court had to decide on an appeal brought by Mono Car against a judgment of the court of prior instance awarding damages to the workers for harm suffered as a result of irregularities in the redundancies procedure. This case involved interpreting whether Directive 98/59/EC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies confers rights directly on workers and, if so, whether those rights are individual or collective. In particular, it was asked by the national referring court whether a system for collective redundancies allowable under the Directive was compatible with fundamental rights.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The AG advised that the Directive does not preclude national measures which allow for a scheme whereby collective redundancies can only be challenged by workers’ representatives.
Interpretation of article(s) and implications for the resolution of the case:
FRC - Articles 27 and 30: AG suggested that “Article 27 [EU Charter of Fundamental Rights] that ‘[W]orkers or their representatives must, at the appropriate levels, be guaranteed information and consultation in good time in the cases and under the conditions provided for by Community law and national laws and practices’ (emphasis added). In that case too, therefore, the legislature confirmed, by the use of the conjunction ‘or’, that the right to information and consultation may be provided for at collective rather than individual level.” (para 49) The AG went on to say that the addition of the word ‘unjustified’ to the word ‘dismissal’ in Article 30 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights meant that “protection is not provided, as a fundamental individual right, with respect to every kind of irregularity that a dismissal might involve. It makes clear that there must be a serious irregularity, as might arise, for example, in relation to the actual merits of a decision to dismiss. Breaches of Directive 98/59, on the other hand, do not appear to be such as to justify reference to Article 30 of the Charter for, given the content of the directive, it is intended that the result of such breaches will be illegality of a formal/procedural kind.” (para 97)