Teacher negotiations see another twist

Teachers’ union received some much-appreciated backing from the negotiation union, KTO, which says that councils’ terms for negotiations are unrealistic

The negotiating union, KTO, which represents some 500,000 public employees, does not want to approve the collective bargaining agreement (overenskomst) agreed to with KL, the national association of local councils, last month unless KL changes its tune in the ongoing negotiations with teachers.

KTO indicated that it refuses to approve the agreement until KL offers more realistic terms in the teachers' talks.

The teachers’ union, Danmarks Lærerforening (DL), is pleased that KTO has decided to step in on its behalf.

“It truly means so much that we as an organisation do not stand alone. That is really nice,” Anders Bondo Christensen, the head of DL, told Politiken newspaper.

The approval of the collective bargaining agreement had been expected to be just a formality after it was originally agreed upon on February 16. The agreement included a general wage increase of 1.97 percent complimented with an additional 0.25 percent increase for employees within certain areas.

Dennis Kristensen, the head of FOA union, proposed to postpone the approval of the agreement at KTO’s representation meeting, which was unanimously backed by the other representatives, including LO, FTF and AC unions.

Kristensen told Politiken that he deemed it necessary to postpone the approval of the agreement in consideration to the teachers.

“The negotiations have not been realistic at this point and we don’t want to leave anyone behind,” Kristensen said during the meeting to applause from the other member of the representation committee.

The negotiations between the teachers and KL have collapsed because of an agreement concerning the teachers’ work hours and KL have threatened to lock out the country’s 52,000 teachers starting April 1. The two opposing parties met yesterday morning at the settlement institution, Forligsinstitutionen, for the first time and it was during a break in these negotiations that Christensen met with KTO.

Meanwhile, members of the Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) have lambasted Economy Minister Margrethe Vestager (Radikale) for saying that the teachers were "creating myths" by saying that the government's proposed education reforms do not allow them enough preparation time for their lessons.

“You must let the opposing parties negotiate and not take sides, because that upsets the balance of power in the negotiations,” Neil Stenbæk Bloem (SF) told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “The ministers must think before they get involved or precedence will be created that the opposition political parties will love to use if they gain power again.”