Carlsberg strike called off

The strike started after an employee refused to join a union but this morning the workers went back on the job

A strike at Carlsberg was called off this morning after the brewer was given the right yesterday to fire the 130 striking employees unless they returned to work.

The employees stopped working last week on Wednesday after a new employee refused to join their union, 3F.

But the labour courts found that the nine-day strike broke their union’s collective bargaining agreement and this morning the employees decided to return to work.

Sold out of beer
The strike has had a serious impact on production of soda and keg beer with Carlsberg reporting that it had sold out its reserve stock this Wednesday.

“Now we have to start planning our production so that we can recover many of the products that were sold out,” Carlsberg's communications director, Jens Bekke, told Ritzau.

Following the labour court’s ruling, the employees have been fined 65 kroner an hour for each day they went on strike.

Freedom to not join a union
In 2006 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that employees cannot be forced to join a specific union when they are hired at a work place.

Despite this, the employee at the heart of the conflict, Poul Erik Nielsen, felt that he was being forced to join 3F when he started working at Carlsberg’s Fredericia factory. His refusal to join started the strike.

“The law says that we have the choice to join a union in Denmark,” Nielsen told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “We are not slaves. Just because a majority in a workplace think we should all be a member of a specific union, it does not mean the law can be ignored.”