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First court hearing in Barist case

Published on Apr 26, 2016 Tags: , , ,
In the morning of April 22, FAU members gathered in front of the Berlin labour court to demonstrate for union rights. The first hearing of a FAU members' case against his former employer, the restaurant Barist, about outstanding holiday pay and wages was to take place. The blacked out space in their banner "Raise your fist against ..." drew attention to the fact that they were not allowed to demonstrate against Barist due to an injunction.

The FAU Berlin first put forward its claim to Barist that its member was owed over 1000 euros in back wages and holiday pay in November 2015. After Barist refused to recognize this claim, the FAU began informing the public about the case through demonstrations and on its website. Later, the worker lodged a case in the labour courts.

At the first hearing on April 22, Barist's lawyers asserted that they did not owe the FAU member any money and that they were unwilling to pay him one cent. The FAU member's lawyer maintained his claim but expressed a willingness to negotiate. The judge asked both parties to send written statements and the court case will likely only continue in 3 months.

The injunction, which was filed for by Barist, is unprecedented. With it, the labour court reasons that it has a monopoly over resolving conflicts involving individual workers and bosses. Apparently public opinion is not welcome: simple things like holding a manifestation, distributing flyers or writing an article to draw attention to a perceived injustice and harness public opinion are prohibited by this injunction. The freedom of assembly and freedom of speech may not get in the way of business, which may only be disrupted by a union during industrial action, i.e. strike. However, in Germany unions can only go on strike when a collective agreement is the goal. Thus, the individuals worker's only recourse is the labour court. Or so it would seem. The FAU will certainly fight this injunction.

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