Government and entertainment industry reaping rewards of teacher lockout

But will the short-term savings add up to long-term losses?

Depending on how the numbers are crunched, the teacher lockout is either saving or costing the public sector money. Wages adding up to just over 100 million kroner each day are not being paid but at the same time, 56 million kroner in taxes are not being paid into the public coffers.

The think-tank Kraka has taken a closer look at the economic consequences of the dispute between Kommunernes Landsforening (KL), the local government association, and the teachers who are locked out from their jobs.

Kraka's calculations suggested that while the state and local governments seem to be saving money in the short term, the loss in productivity and the social costs of the conflict could actually result in the final tally winding up in the loss column.

The think-tank included in its figures the loss of productivity caused by employees who have to take children with them to work and therefore are not as effective as usual.

"There is a public expenditure side which you would not normally think about," Kraka's senior economist, Kristian Thor Jakobsen, told Politiken newspaper, adding that the drops in productivity and efficiency will get worse if the conflict grinds on and continues to put greater burdens on parents and kids.

Jakobsen also factors the classroom hours that the children are missing into his spreadsheet.

"Losses for the children are losses for everyone, given that these classes will not be made up later on," he said.

One sure, if somewhat sheepish, winner during the lockout is the country’s entertainment industry. Cinemas and amusement parks expect an increasing number of visitors because of the lockout.

The thousands of children who are currently not in classrooms are expected to be a boon to the entertainment industry. As such, theatres and amusement parks have expanded their programmes and opening hours to help – and attract – lockout-affected families.

"There will probably be some grandparents caring for kids that cannot go to school," Henrik Hörmann, the head of Legoland amusement park, told the freesheet metroXpress.

Nordisk Film Cinemas have also prepared for an increasing number of guests.

"We are staying open longer and have more films on the programme in the coming weeks," Nordisk Film Cinema's head, John Tønnes, told MetroXpress. "There has already been a healthy increase in sales."

Tønnes said that entire school classes have been buying up blocks of tickets, but stressed that Nordisk Film is not trying to exploit a conflict that is hurting so many.

"It is a difficult balance, because it is not our desire to profit from it, but we have an obligation to offer cultural entertainment if people demand it," he said.

The animals at the Copenhagen Zoo are also seeing a benefit from the lockout in that they are being fed more often.

"We have received calls from parent groups who have come together to look after the students," Sami Widell, an event arranger for the zoo, told metroXpress. "We have expanded the programme this week with more feedings and greater access to our workshop."

Kraka based its calculations on about 48,000 locked-out full-time positions with an average annual salary of 460,000 kroner.  Only teachers who are considered civil servants or are not employed through the collective bargaining agreement must show up at their schools as normal.

The lockout affects about 600,000 school-age children and an additional 300,000 adult students.