Venstre proposal could mean 30 kroner an hour salaries

A proposal from Venstre and Dansk Folkeparti could force some Danes to work under collective bargaining agreements from countries with weaker wages, Employment Ministry argues

If a majority in parliament approved a proposal by Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Venstre (V), some workers would be forced to work for salaries as low as 30 kroner an hour and without the right to strike.

The proposal was made to limit the rights of trade unions to enter into conflicts with businesses that sign collective bargaining agreements with independent unions that tend to leave their employees worse off.

This would prevent incidents such as the blockade of the restaurant Vejlegården by the union 3F after the restaurant signed up to the collective bargaining agreement of the independent union Krifa.

Krifa’s collective bargaining agreement provided worse working conditions for employees than those outlined in the collective bargaining agreement made in the ‘three-party talks’ between the confederation of unions, the employers' union and the government –  an agreement that forms the working conditions for almost all Danes.

Currently, employees have the right to enter into conflicts with businesses that sign up to alternative and weaker collective bargaining agreements, as was the case at Vejlegården. The combination of the three-party talks and the right to blockade businesses that do not abide by them, form the Danish employment model.

But V and DF want to end this right to conflict. According to the Employment Ministry, this would open up the possibility of employers getting away with substantially lower salaries and could undermine the working conditions that have been secured through the Danish employment model.

This is because EU law states that all collective bargaining agreements are equal, regardless of which country they are made in. This means that Danish businesses would technically be able to sign up to Polish collective bargaining agreements, where salaries are significantly lower, without giving Danish trade unions the right to protest the challenge to Danish working conditions.

“[Venstre’s proposal] would be a significant break from the Danish model and reduce the opportunity to ensure employees a reasonable salary they can live off,” the Employment Ministry stated in a press release.

V's employment spokesperson, Ulla Tørnæs, acknowledged that the proposal did have some legal ramifications.

“We don’t want a situation where people are paid 30 kroner an hour,” Tørnæs told Jyllands-Posten, adding that they planned to reexamine their proposal before resubmitting it.