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HELIOS clinics avoid strikes for "collective agreement seeking relief" with the help of Allen & Overy

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Ubber Thomas
Thomas Ubber

Senior Partner Germany

Frankfurt am Main

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05 December 2017

As part of a Germany-wide "collective bargaining movement seeking relief", services union ver.di currently aims at implementing minimum staffing provisions for hospitals in the collective bargaining agreements.  In the event that staffing falls short of the prescribed number, a so-called "shortfall and relief management" is intended to be mandatorily introduced which prohibits that core employees step in to deal with short-term bottlenecks. 

As part of this nationwide initiative, ver.di on Monday called on all employees subject to collective bargaining agreements and apprentices at HELIOS Amper Klinikum Dachau and HELIOS Amper Klinik Indersdorf to go on enforcement strikes (Erzwingungsstreiks) for three days each, starting on Wednesday, 6 December 2017.  The union was not willing to ensure emergency service in critical areas such as neurology and physiotherapy.

Following receipt of the calls for strike, HELIOS instructed Allen & Overy to apply at the Labour Court (Arbeitsgericht) of Munich (case no. 31 Ga 181/17) for preliminary injunction to be issued.  This application was granted by the Labour Court following today's oral hearing.  The Court prohibited the planned strikes of ver.di at Helios Amper Klinikum Dachau and Helios Amper Klinik Indersdorf.  In the event of breach, ver.di will face an administrative fine (Ordnungsgeld) of up to EUR 250,000 or detainment of the union's president for failure to obey court orders (Ordnungshaft).

In the view of the Labour Court of Munich, the strike action to enforce measures for "managing shortfalls and their consequences in the event of manpower shortage" breached the duty not to engage in industrial action arising from the blanket collective agreement which has not been terminated.  According to ver.di's own statements, the measures for managing shortfalls and their consequences are intended to protect the health of the employees.  The same aim was pursued by the comprehensive provisions of the blanket collective agreement, such as the provisions on working time, the limitation of overtime work and time off in lieu, the Court said.  Consequently, there were overlaps between the strike demands and the blanket collective agreement which has not been terminated. 

At Allen & Overy, both proceedings were conducted by partner Thomas Ubber and associate Jutta Heidisch (both Frankfurt).

On the part of HELIOS, inhouse counsel Claudia Gerber-Krause acted as leading advisor.

ver.di was represented in the proceedings by regional group director Robert Hinke, regional district of Bavaria, and the trade union's legal counsel (Rechtssekretär) Christian Reisch.

Presiding judge of the 31st division of the Labour Court of Munich is Dr Antje Schmiege.