Holidays may go on permanent vacation

Union members are unimpressed as negotiators discuss the possibilities of scrapping two holidays

Female students are predominant on five out of the six Copenhagen University faculties (photo: iStock)
May 9th, 2012 11:12 am| by admin
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Danes are facing the possibility of being stripped of two holidays as the government and the workers' unions try and come up with four billion kroner of extra work production.

The negotiations continue on the prospect of getting rid of Great Prayer Day (Store Bededag, which is the fourth Friday after Easter), and also either Holy Thursday (skærtorsdag, the day before Good Friday) or Whit Monday (2. Pinsedag, the Monday after the seventh Sunday after Easter).

Scrapping the two holidays has been proposed at meetings between the government's ministers and negotiators from the unions FTF and LO.

Advocates of dropping the holidays argue that the model would have three major benefits. Firstly, fewer holidays means that the workforce will contribute more, and secondly, the unions avoid the situation where their members must vote “yes” to a new agreement at the parliamentary level. Lastly, the four billion kroner that will be saved will go straight into funding the initiatives that are to be decided by the upcoming three-party talks.

But, the prospect of losing holidays has not gone down well in the union circles. The nurses' union, Dansk Sygeplejeråd, is displeased with the proposal, saying that the timing is poor due to the current high unemployment rate.

“I don’t want to ask my members to work more when their colleagues are being laid off,” Dansk Sygeplejeråd's president, Grete Christensen, told Berlingske newspaper. “So the first thing we must agree to at the three-party talks is when we need a boost to the work force, and then we can discuss cutting the holidays afterwards.”

Kim Simonsen, president of the HK union, was equally perplexed by the suggestion and urged the government to get going with the talks instead.

“If a holiday is difficult, then two of them would be twice as hard, especially when we can’t see what we are getting out of it,” Simonsen told Berlingske. “I would like to encourage the government to get on with the three-party negotiations now.”

The president of FOA union, Dennis Kristensen, is also on the record as saying he is unsatisfied with the prospect of waving goodbye to holidays.

(photo: Henrik Stenberg)
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