Sanctions for Unlawful Collective Action in the Nordic Countries and Germany

Niklas Bruun, Caroline Johansson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This article compares the industrial relations systems in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany with the aim of exploring the approach to remedies and sanctions in order to find out whether national remedies and sanctions for unlawful industrial action could also be applicable to situations of ‘unlawful Collective Action under EU law’. In our opinion, it is crucial for such a comparison to focus not just on the legal remedies at hand in the national legal context, but also to take into account the context of industrial relations in which they function. A comparative study of sanctions and remedies in the Nordic countries and Germany opens up a spectrum of rather complicated rules that have been fine-tuned in legal practice at national level over several decades, including rules on defining lawful collective action, mediation, and interim injunctions. The legislator and the courts have built national systems that are based on an acceptance of Collective Action as a legitimate tool for trade unions, a tool
that is not allowed to be misused and that has been developed to support and fit into the national industrial relations system and traditions of collective bargaining.The starting point is that unlawful Collective Action should be subject to economic sanctions, but these sanctions should not endanger continued contractual relations between the labour market parties. Economic sanctions are not primarily calculated on the basis of economic loss on the part of the
employers, but many factors are taken into account, such as the size of the trade union as well as any mitigating and aggravating factors in accordance with national law and practice. These aspects should be taken into account also in cases of ‘EU-unlawful’ collective action.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 09.2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 513 Law
  • labour law, unlawful collective action, sanctions
  • KOTA2014


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