Polish Embassy in hot water over anti-union manual

After revelation that embassy is advising companies to avoid unions, the employment minister said she wants an explanation

The government is none too pleased that the Polish Embassy is advising Polish companies on how to avoid working with Danish unions and paying Danish wages. 

Following revelations that the embassy has warned Polish companies via a manual not to deal with Danish unions, the employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), has launched an enquiry into the issue and said she expects a reply from the Polish Embassy sometime this week.

“I have asked officials to contact the Polish Embassy in order to quell any misunderstandings about how the labour market works,” Frederiksen told Berlingske newspaper. “That happened on Friday, and I’m awaiting a reaction.”

Manual: Danish unions use illegal methods
The 3F union made the revelation in its publication, Fagbladet 3F, in which it reported that the embassy warned Polish companies to avoid Danish unions, and accused the unions of using illegal methods when they want Polish companies to agree to Danish wages.

“In practice, the unions force Polish entrepreneurs, through various and often illegal actions, to agree to labour agreements,” the manual reads.

The manual also advises against revealing wage conditions to employees and underlines that unions have no right to that information either.

Frederiksen said that it was essential that foreign companies and employees understand how the labour market works in Denmark.

“In Denmark we have a different model than in other countries and one that we want to protect. Unions are good for Denmark and they function completely legally,” Frederiksen told Berlingske.

Only trying to help
The Polish ambassador to Denmark, Rafal Wisniewski, has declined to comment on the matter, but an embassy spokesperson, Jacek Wójcikowski, said that the purpose of the manual was to ensure that Polish companies adhere to Danish law.

“What we are saying is that Polish firms shouldn’t avoid meeting with unions when invited and that they should read and comprehend anything they sign because it could include certain responsibilities,” Wójcikowski wrote to Fagbladet 3F.

A number of political parties have expressed concern over the manual, but right-wing Danish Folkeparti (DF) wants to take it a step further.

“The government should look into how many other embassies have similar manuals laying about,” Bent Bøgsted a spokesperson for DF, told Berlingske.

According to Fagbladet 3F, the person behind the manual is a Polish consultant who is involved with four companies that have cheated their Polish workers out of their wages over several years. 

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