Three new rulings of the Labor Circuit of the Andalusian High Court of Justice from June 8th and 10th find that the terminations were lawful and due to organizational and production causes, while dismissing appeals from workers which sought to declare them void due to infringing upon the right to unionize freely
The three new rulings consider it proven that the contract that LBAS entered with the US Navy, in force since 2016, entailed a reduction of over 25% of the provided services, by changing the number of aircraft to be serviced to three (down from four); supressed the accessory services; and required the contractor to create a new management position (Duty Officer) with permanent presence at the airport offices. This was also accompanied by a 4.6 million Euro reduction in the contract budget.
The rulings, echoing Supreme Court arguments, consider that “the loss or reduction in workload must be, from its inception, considered as a production cause, since it implies that the amount of contracted production is diminished; therefore, it manifests as an organizational cause, as it impacts the work routines and the workload that must be shared among workers.”
In addition to that, the rulings state that the documents issued by the US Navy prove that LBAS did not voluntarily offer a smaller bid as a way to ensure the contract at all costs, as has been repeatedly claimed by the Works Council in the course of the ongoing conflict between the parts, but that it was the US Navy itself which required the contractor to lower its initial bid in light of the reduction in services, forcing Louis Berger to bring its prices down.
Consequently, and as supported by the three rulings, production causes, as defined in the 51.1 paragraph of the Workers’ Statute, are considered to be present, since the reduction in the services requested by the client must inescapably imply a lower contract price and, therefore, a smaller workforce with which to provide them.
Furthermore, the rulings again affirm that LBAS has fulfilled its obligations with regards to the Spanish labor laws, as they reject the workers’ claims of a purported infringement of the right to unionize freely, since the courts consider that right related to the collective bargaining processes and, therefore, that it is only bestowed on the unions themselves instead of on workers who are not even members of any union.
Louis Berger expresses its satisfaction at the vindication of its HR policy provided by the three rulings, which support that the terminations that have been carried out have been exclusively due to objective, economic and production causes.
At the same time, LBAS regrets that the three workers decided to follow the advice of the Works Council to fight their terminations in court, which the Council saw as a way to open another front on its fruitless conflict with the company, instead of negotiating an improved severance package with the management, an option which the company offered to them even though, as supported by the TSJA rulings, there was fair cause for their terminations.
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The aforementioned rulings, adequately anonymized, may be reviewed in the Document Archives, or directly downloaded here: Ruling 1467/2020, Ruling 1460/2020 and Ruling 1329/2020.
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