Supreme Court (“Cour de cassation”), Syndicat du transport et des activités d’assistance sur les aéroports parisiens, 3 March 2010, Appeal No. 09-60.283

Constitution of France

Article 54

If the Constitutional Council, at the request of the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the President of one or the other assembly or by sixty deputies or sixty senators, has declared that an international commitment contains a clause contrary to the Constitution, authorization to ratify or approve the international commitment in question may be given only after amendment of the Constitution.

Article 55

Duly ratified or approved treaties or agreements shall, upon publication, prevail over acts of Parliament, subject, in regard to each agreement or treaty, to its application by the other party.

Freedom of association
Role of International Law:
Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law
Type of instruments used:

Ratified treaty1

Freedom of association/ Acquisition of legal personality by a trade union/ Direct resolution of a dispute on the basis of international law 

The Syndicat du transport et des activités d’assistance sur les aéroports parisiens (STAAAP), having amended its constitution, notably by eliminating reference to Christianity and abandoning membership of the CFTC in favour of the Union de Syndicats autonomes (UNSA), and having then submitted a list of candidates for the works committee and staff representative elections, was deemed not to have been in existence for the two years’ required by law to take part in such elections, since the changes made were deemed to be substantial and equivalent to the establishment of a new trade union. Submission of the list of candidates was therefore declared void by the Court of First Instance. The union claimed that the decision should be annulled.

The Court took the view that the grounds put forward to declare that STAAAP UNSA had not been in existence for the time required by law to take part in the elections, i.e.: that the union had declined to establish that the composition of its committee and the list of members remained the same, and that the change from a Christian to a secular union represented substantial changes leading to the creation of a new union, conflicted with Article L. 2314-3 and L. 2324-4 of the Labour Code and ILO Convention No. 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organize.

The Court ruled that:

“according to the Convention, … the acquisition of legal personality by trade unions shall not be made subject to conditions of such a character as to restrict the exercise of their freedom to draw up their constitution, elect their representatives, formulate their programme of action and join federations or confederations; the exercise of such freedoms by a trade union therefore cannot give rise to the loss of its legal personality”.

On the basis of ILO Convention No. 87, the Court therefore set aside and annulled the judgement that had annulled the trade union’s submission of its list of candidates.

1 ILO Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No. 87).

Full text of the decision