Unemployed should accept lower wages, chamber of commerce argues

June 7th, 2013

This article is more than 10 years old.

Unions say Dansk Erhverv’s recommendation that unemployed should accept lower wages will increase wage inequality

Chamber of commerce Dansk Erhverv has urged unemployed Danes to lower their expectations and accept lower starting wages when looking for jobs.

“Danish unemployed can learn something from the foreign labour force. When you are new in the industry the wages are usually lower because it takes some time before you learn about your job,” Ole Steen Olsen, a Dansk Erhverv spokesperson, told Avisen.dk.

New figures from left-leaning economic think tank AE showed that eastern European workers have a wage that is comparable to local workers after working a year or so in Denmark. Labour confederation LO, however, found the announcement worrisome, contending the move would lead to increased wage inequality.

“Employers have been part of negotiating collective wage agreements and it is naturally these that we will go by,” Lizette Risgaard, the deputy head of LO, told DR News. “There can be no doubts that people should have wages based on the work conditions in the collective agreement when working in Denmark, whether you are Danish or foreign.”

Dansk Erhverv’s announcement comes after AE revealed new figures on Wednesday documenting the earning levels of different nationalities working in Denmark for shorter periods of time.

On AE’s list, eight out of the ten nationalities who earn the least are from eastern Europe, including Ukrainians, who earn 14,200 kroner a month, Romanians, who earn 13,500 kroner a month and Bulgarians, who earn 9,500 kroner a month. The Danish average monthly wage, on the other hand, is 30,000 kroner.

Acocording to AE there are nearly 56,000 eastern Europeans working in Denmark.

3F, Denmark’s largest union, has in the past criticised employers who pay eastern Europeans less than the average Danish wage.

“We see a clear tendency towards growing problems with social dumping in connection with short-term employment,” Poul Erik Skov Christensen, 3F’s head, told Avisen.dk. “It is the employers who are exploiting foreign labour for short periods of time, such as within the green areas, cleaning and construction industries.”

Dansk Erhverv argued that if there were any companies that didn’t pay their employees properly, unions had the opportunity to establish a blockade or a boycott


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