The conditions of lawfulness of a warning strike

In September 2019, the Hungarian Supreme Court (Curia) stated in its decision that even in case of a warning strike, the employer must be notified on the strike at a time that allows the exercise of its right to prevent damages caused by the stop of operations, and also to perform its obligation to protect life and property and to perform any organisational work related to these rights and obligations. If a strike does not meet the aforementioned conditions, it can be considered as unlawful.

In the present case, the representative of the trade union notified the employer on a warning strike via e-mail, after 10pm, the day before the strike was announced. As requested by the trade union, the strike was organised the day after from midnight to 2:30 am (i.e. within two hours from the notification).

As a consequence, the employer requested the court to determine that the warning strike and the stop of operation were unlawful, while the trade union demanded the rejection of the employer’s request on the ground of the obligation of cooperation between the employer and the employees.

The court has declared that even though the applicable law on strikes is silent on how and when a strike should be announced, a strike should be announced and the employer must be notified in a time and way that allows the employer to exercise its rights and perform its obligations.

The Curia has stated that a warning strike organised during a night shift that was announced only two hours prior to its start does not comply with the general principle of the parties’ obligation to cooperate, therefore, it cannot be considered as lawful

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