Union: plenty of Danish applicants for unskilled jobs

Eight of the country’s largest employers say they receive more applications than they can handle

July 16th, 2012 12:29 pm| by admin

Accusations that Danes are not applying for tough, unskilled jobs are unfounded, according to trade union 3F.

The union, which organises unkilled labourers, reported that in a recent survey of eight major companies – Grundfos, Post Denmark, Arla, Coop, Danish Crown, Danfoss, Lego and 7-Eleven – each of them said they get more applicants then they can handle for any unskilled job that they advertise.

“We have received up to 500 applications for a single position at a new store,” Rikke Rye, HR manager at 7-Eleven told 3F. “We even get many applying for jobs with odd working hours, like late nights.”

New figures from Statistics Denmark show that in May, there were eight times as many people unemployed as there were vacancies for them to fill.

Recently, some employers have said that low-paying, unskilled positions have primarily been going to foreigners because Danes do not want the jobs.

Ruth’s Hotel in the resort town of Skagen, reported that they recently employed 16 eastern Europeans as housekeepers or dishwashers. Of the nearly 30 people who applied for the vacant jobs, not one of them was Danish. Peter Christian Jensen, who runs the hotel, said that it is time to face facts.

“Danes do not want or need low-paying jobs anymore,” he told Jylland’s-Posten newspaper.

In a letter to Jylland’s Posten commenting on the original article, Morten Dahlberg, the chairman of 3F’s Frederikshavn office, said that Ruth’s Hotel is well-known to his members.

“We have had eight members from the Skagen area apply for work at Ruth’s in just the past six months in both skilled and unskilled positions,” wrote Dahlberg.

Dahlberg said that the hotel manager was more than welcome to contact him if he needed workers. He said that not only could he supply the hands the hotel needs, he would be glad to help forge an agreement making sure that all in the hote'ls employ were being treated fairly.

The latest numbers reveal that foreigners fill 80 percent of all jobs in the hotel, restaurant and catering industries and 30 percent in the cleaning business. Half of the jobs at plant nurseries in Denmark are filled by workers coming from outside the country. Dahlberg said those numbers are due to the economic upswing of the 1990s. 

“‘Natural-born’ Danes had a chance to move up in the workplace during the good times and that created a pocket of opportunity for those of other ethnic backgrounds to enter the workforce in sectors like cleaning or the restaurant business.”

Dahlberg said his members are motivated and want to work but need jobs that offer more than a tiny pay packet for a few months.

“Many of these jobs only offer 40 hours a month, so a worker has to juggle two or three jobs to make ends meet. They work 24-7 during the holiday season and wind up out on the street when the season ends”

He said that if employers worked harder at making the jobs attractive, more people would be sending in applications.

Jens Juul Nielsen, a spokesperson for Coop, which operates several chains of grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide, told 3F that finding employees ahs not been a problem for his company. He said that even though the salary for cashiers is usually less than 20,000 kroner per month, Coop receives hundreds of applications every time they have a vacancy.

“We get as many applicants as we need, “said Nielsen. “We do not have problem finding workers anywhere in the country.”

Post Danmark said its problem is that it gets too many applicants when they advertise for mail deliverers or package handlers.

“Our ad only needs to be on the internet for a day, and we receive so many applicants we have to pull it down,” Hans Erik Nielsen, a company spokesperson, said.

In one of the most extreme cases, Ruth’s Hotel in the resort town of Skagen has employed 16 eastern Europeans as housekeepers or dishwashers over the past two weeks. Of the nearly 30 people who applied for the vacant jobs, not one of them was Danish. Peter Christian Jensen, who runs the hotel, said that it is time to face facts.

“Danes do not want or need low-paying jobs anymore,” he told Jylland’s-Posten newspaper.

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