Public sector cuts 40,000 positions

Municipalities’ budgets are likely to continue to shrink through 2012

There will be 40,000 fewer public employees by the end of this year as compared to autumn 2009, when the number of public sector jobs was as its peak. Dennis Kristensen, chairman of the union FOA, told MetroXpress newspaper that the cuts are hurting services across the country.

“The knife has cut very, very deep,” said Kristensen. “No politician with respect for the truth can say that we are delivering the quality of service that we did before.”

Figures from local budget offices and the Det Fælleskommunale Løndatakontor, which oversees salary and personnel information for the nation’s regions and councils, show that nearly 36,000 public jobs have been lost since 2009. FOA expects that number to top 40,000 by the end of the year.

Some see the the reductions as a positive step.

“The decline in the numbers of public employees is good news,” said economist Mads Lundby Hansen from the liberal think tank CEPOS. “These numbers can be reduced without effecting services, especially if the cuts come in administration and not among hands-on workers.”

The education sector is also feeling the pinch as municipalities tighten their belts.

Numbers from the teachers union BUPL show that nearly 1,000 jobs were cut in 2010 and another 900 disappeared in 2011.  Another 500 teachers had their hours reduced.

The picture is even bleaker for teaching assistants; FOA reports that from October 2009 to October 2011 the number of teacher’s aides dropped by 5,000 – nearly 14 percent.

From 2008 to 2010, nearly 13,000 jobs at daycare institutions, clubs, after-school programmes and nurseries disappeared, according to Danmark Statistik.

Henning Pedersen of BUPL told Politiken newspaper that the cuts hurt the nationÂ’s young people.

“The children can feel a drop in the quality of the care that they receive,” he said.

The government has set aside 500 million kroner annually to help daycare institutions recruit about 1,500 new workers.

Pedersen says it is not enough.

“Five hundred million kroner is a good start, but it doesn’t make up for the number of jobs that have disappeared,” he said.
Denmark’s national municipal organisation, Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), said that budgets for municipalities will continue to shrink in 2012.

The challenges faced in delivering quality care on a tight budget is a major part of the agenda at KL’s ‘BørnetopmødeÂ’, a biannual meeting held to discuss children’s issues, scheduled to take place in Aalborg on February 2-3.