Roberto Mendolia plans to take the case of Aleba’s loss of representativeness to the European Court of Human Rights. Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne/Archives

Roberto Mendolia plans to take the case of Aleba’s loss of representativeness to the European Court of Human Rights. Photo: Matic Zorman/Maison Moderne/Archives

In March 2021, the financial sector trade union filed an appeal with the administrative court against the withdrawal of its sectoral representation by Dan Kersch. The court dismissed the case on 29 March.

Aleba had challenged in court the decision of the minister of labour, employment and the social and solidarity economy, (LSAP), to withdraw its sectoral representativeness on 2 March 2021 at the joint request of the trade unions OGBL and the LCGB. This took place against the background of a power struggle when collective agreements in the banking and insurance sectors were being renegotiated. And Aleba had a head start.

Albea acquired national representativeness in 2005 on the basis of the results obtained during the social elections of November 2003. It was a representation that had become ‘sectoral,’ but the results of the ballot box had never been called into question.

This was the case until the March 2019 elections, when Aleba obtained ‘only’ 49.22% of the votes. On 12 November 2020, the OGBL and the LCGB asked Kersch to withdraw Aleba’s sectoral representation in the name of respecting the law, which stipulates a threshold of 50%. This withdrawal suited their own interests as well.

The minister accepted the request. He spoke to Delano’s sister publication Paperjam of a forced decision. “I had no choice,” .

Albea denounces influence peddling

Before the administrative court, Aleba invoked a “partisan” political act that had no legal basis and denounced “influence peddling.”

It also claimed that the minister had not revoked Aleba’s sectoral representation following the social elections, but had recognised it. This tacit recognition was binding and created rights for the union.

The court rejected these arguments, as well as the report of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Trade Union Freedoms, which was included in the file. This report supported Aleba’s position and called on the government to ensure that the most representative union in a sector could fully defend the interests of its members.

All the formal arguments, such as the non-conformity of the previous ILO report, were also swept aside.

What happens now?

Contacted by Paperjam, Aleba had not responded to our questions at the time of publishing this article. But its president Roberto Mendolia, when presenting the union’s new strategy, had stated his intention to use all existing legal avenues, including the European Court of Human Rights. But without waiting for this, Aleba will present candidates in all economic sectors during the social elections of 2024. This is a way of establishing its democratic legitimacy a little more in the face of the OGBL-LCGB duopoly.

It’s a risky gamble.

This story was first published in French on . It has been translated and edited for Delano.