Copenhagen can’t do without foreign workers

3F union maintains that employers are favouring foreign workers because they can hire them outside of collective labour agreements

Over the past two years, Copenhagen has become such a magnet for foreign workers that many sectors are now unable to sustain themselves without their non-Danish employees.

Since 2011, there has been a 46 percent increase in the number of EU citizens from outside of Scandinavia who have found employment in Copenhagen. The number of Romanian and Polish workers has almost doubled and they are working side by side with over 2,000 Indian, Pakistani and Thai colleagues, according to new figures from

The foreigners particularly take jobs within the hotel and cleaning industries and their presence has become invaluable to companies in the Copenhagen area.

“Without foreigners, we would have immense recruiting problems. It is particularly an issue in the capital region because in Jutland we see more Danes who have cleaning jobs,” Jan Stiiskjær, a head consultant for service industry union Servicebranchens Arbejdsgiverforening, which represents the country’s biggest cleaning companies, told Berlingske newspaper.

The labour union 3F said that employers are to blame for the development. 

“Instead of hiring a Danes full-time, they employ foreigners part-time and many are not attached to the collective labour agreement [overenskomst],” Jan Mathiessen, a spokesperson for 3F in Copenhagen, told Berlingske.

But Allan Agerholm, the deputy head of hotel union Horesta and the managing director of the Crowne Plaza hotel, rejected Mathiessen’s argument.

“We follow the guidelines that we have agreed upon with 3F in the collective labour agreement and some people chose to work part-time on their own accord,” Agerholm told Berlingske.