Finance minister threatens lockout as school reform debate breaks down
The nation's teachers have been given a month to come to an agreement with their employers on the terms of a new contract, after the finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (Socialdemokaterne), indicated today that he was ready to enforce a lockout on up to 60,000 teachers.
“I am sorry to say that negotiations are at a deadlock,” Corydon wrote in a press release. “Therefore, I have taken the serious decision to warn of a lockout for some state-employed teachers. But my hope is that an agreement will soon be found, which I think is still possible if all parties are determined to find it.”
Corydon must give teachers a four-week warning before a lockout can take effect. If no agreement can be reached before March 31, teachers will be out of work and without pay until they can agree on the terms of a new contract.
Negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement collapsed yesterday, as teachers’ union Danmarks Lærerforening (DL) and KL, the national association of local councils, continued to battle over a proposed school reform.
Both parties refuse to give ground on working hours for teachers. The proposed reform, put forward by the government last year without the support of DL, calls for teachers to spend more hours in the classroom without an increase in school budgets.
Michael Ziegler, the chief negotiator for KL, accused DL of not bringing any specific proposals to the table.
DL representative Anders Bondo Christensen, on the other hand, insisted that the negotiations werer far from deadlocked.
“It takes two to declare a negotiation collapse,” Christensen told media. “We’re not in a gridlock. Nor are we that far away from reaching an agreement.”
However, with the threat of a labour conflict now a reality teachers took to the streets today to distribute information in a bid to win parental support against the school reform.