Socialist Worker

Workers gear up for massive pay fight in Denmark

by Charlie Lywood from the International Socialists in Denmark
Issue No. 2597

Public sector trade unions held a giant shop stewards’ meeting last week

Public sector trade unions held a giant shop stewards’ meeting last week

Around 10,000 shop stewards met last week in Denmark as a major confrontation looms.

Some 500,000 public workers might be on strike or locked out in April. They want a substantial pay rise—particularly for the lower paid—that would reflect wage improvements in the private sector.

In addition they want to stop employers hacking away at some of the hard won gains workers have achieved such as paid lunches.

In reality most health and education workers are on-call during their lunch breaks.

Finally the unions demand that the teachers no longer have their work conditions decided by law but by negotiation.

The government and local authorities refused all of these things.

Many believe this will lead to the government stopping the dispute by law and dictating an agreement.

This would mean that no strikes could then receive direct help from unions’ strike funds as that would be illegal and their assets would then be impounded.

When the unions announced strikes for 60,000 workers, the employers announced a lock out for almost ten times that. This means if no agreement is made, Denmark will be more or less paralysed in April.

Denmark has been plagued for years by a right wing government that uses racism to deflect attention from its tax cuts for the rich and its assaults on welfare.

Socialists are arguing for solidarity between public and private sector workers as the former look after the latter’s children and older people.

There is a very militant mood among public sector workers and there is no telling what will happen. These strikes create the possibility of a change in mood against the government.

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