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Is collective bargaining, a demonstration of the widely recognised rights to freedom of association and freedom to join a union, exempt from European Economic Area (EEA) competition law and free movement principles? Early case law from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) indicates that collective bargaining falls outside Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, but Holship, a recent judgment from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Court is a timely reminder that the exception from antitrust scrutiny is limited. Collective action that goes beyond legitimate collective bargaining or is ill-served by the strike action at issue may be illegal (and cause the union to be liable to the employer) when it infringes EEA competition and free movement rules.

This article was first published by International Law Office.

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