Vestager: Teachers “creating myths” about education reform

Teachers’ union accuses economy minister of “unheard of” meddling

Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager (Radikale) enraged the nation's teachers over the weekend, by suggesting that they were being less than honest about the impact that proposed education reforms would have on their work day.

Negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement between the teachers’ union Danmarks Lærerforening (DL) and KL, the national association of local councils, are scheduled to resume today, with both parties refusing to give ground on working hours for teachers. A proposed education 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.

Vestager, while stating that she did not want to get directly involved in the process, accused teachers of "taking the negotiations hostage".

"They are creating myths by saying that the proposed reforms do not allow them preparation time," Vestager told Berlingske newspaper.

Vestager rejected the teachers' claims that reforms will result in less teaching time.

DL members are furious at what they see as Vestager's interference just as negotiations were scheduled to restart.

"It completely undermines negotiations when the minister so clearly speaks out and supports one party," DL head Anders Bondo Christensen told Berlingske.

He said that it is "unheard of" that a political leader would interfere in collective bargaining, although many will remember that the finance minister, Bjarne Corydon (Socialdemokraterne), interfered with negotiations between SAS employees and management in November.

Christensen that it was a "paradox" that Vestager would take a pot shot at teachers when he believes that the government's reforms are being financed on the backs of educators.

Christensen is scheduled to meet today with Michael Ziegler, KL's top negotiator. If no agreement is reached, teachers may be locked out at the end of the month, giving students an unplanned extended Easter holiday.