Russia: Important decision by the European Court of Human Rights

Yesterday, 20th of November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced the decision on the complaint of Anatoly Ognevenko, a member of the Russian trade union of locomotive railway brigades (RPLBZh), who was dismissed for participating in the strike.

The resonant strike on the Moscow Railway took place on April 28, 2008 after the failure of wage negotiations. In its decision, the ECHR found a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for the right to freedom of assembly and association. The interests of Anatoly Ognevenko were represented by lawyers of the Center for Social and Labor Rights.

Anatoly Ognevenko worked as an electric train driver at the Zheleznodorozhnaya depot of the Moscow Railway and was member of RPLBZh. He took part in a one-day strike, coming to the workplace that day, but not taking up his duties.

Soon, in the beginning of June 2008, Anatoly Ognevenko was dismissed for repeated failure to perform his duties without proper reasoning. Although the employer did not challenge the legality of the strike, and the court did not take the decision to recognize the strike as illegal, the Russian courts refused to take the side of the railway worker and declare his dismissal unlawful. In July 2009, Anatoly Ognevenko appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. The Ognevenko v. Russia case (No. 44873/09) in the ECHR has been considered for almost ten years.

In particular, the ECHR concluded that dismissing an applicant after participating in a strike constitutes a disproportionate restriction of the applicant’s right to freedom of association. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As indicated in his ruling by the ECHR, the Russian courts, considering the case, limited themselves to an analysis of the formal compliance with the relevant Russian laws and failed to strike a balance between the applicant’s right to freedom of association with competing public interests. In accordance with the decision of the ECHR, the respondent state must pay a total of 10,500 euros to the applicant within three months.

KTR information