Criticism of government after collapsed labour negotiations

Failed negotiations with unions and workers have some saying it is time for the prime minister to step down

The government's hope of generating an additional 4 billion kroner in tax revenue has been dashed after trade union Dansk Metal declared in a press release that it would not accept fewer bank holidays or reduced holiday times, a key element of the plan.

“We could have found the 4 billion kroner”, Bjarne Corydon, the finance minister, told the press. “But that opportunity is gone now.”

Negotiations between the government, labour officials and representatives from management got underway at the end of May, but before they even had a chance to gather steam, Dansk Metal announced its unconditional opposition to longer working hours.

Corydon had initially sought to continue the talks without Dansk Metal, but chose instead to scuttle the negotiations entirely.

He described Dansk Metal’s move as “surprising” and said the government would now be required to harvest the additional funding by cutting spending.

“We’re going to continue to follow responsible economic policies. I can assure you that we’re not going to spend more money than we take in.”

Henning Jørgensen, a labour relations expert at Aalborg University, was surprised by Corydon’s decision to end the talks.

“I cannot understand why a press release is so important,” Jørgensen told “I think the finance minister overreacted.” 

Politicians and pundits are calling the collapse of the negotiations a major setback for the government. An editorial in Jyllands-Posten newspaer called the failure “yet another humiliating defeat for the prime minister”, and went on to call for a new general election as soon as possible.

Liberal Alliance party leader Anders Samuelsen has said that Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) should resign. “It’s time for her to throw in the towel and step down, “Samuelsen said in a release.

Public broadcaster DR’s political analyst Jens Ringberg said that although he doesn’t think a new election is in the offing, the government is in trouble.

“You do not enter these types of talks for fun. They have dug themselves into a very deep hole,” Ringberg said.

Poul Erik Skov, the head of labour union 3F, said that some members have a hard time grasping the government’s contention that the budget can be balanced by cutting holidays and increasing working hours.

“It’s clear that people have had difficulty understanding a discussion of increased working hours, when there are so many out of work,” Skov told

“Increasing working hours should be discussed when there is a need for labour. That is why one of our demands was for more jobs.” Jørgensen said he thought the talks could still be saved.

“It is in the best interest of both the government and the various unions to find an agreement,” he said. 

Jørgen Steen Madsen, a professor at the Research Center for Occupational and Organisational Studies at the University of Copenhagen, agreed that the talks could be saved.

“The three-party talks have historically been marked by crises and disruptions along the way,” Madsen told Politiken newspaper. “It is too early to put the negotiations in the grave.”