In what is being called the largest industrial arbitration case in Danish history, the Italian firm Cipa has been found guilty of underpaying its workers.
Cipa is one of three Italian firms serving as subcontractors on the massive expansion of Copenhagen’s Metro system.
An arbitration court ruled Tuesday that Cipa has underpaid around 200 employees from Portugal, Italy and Romania. The company must now compensate the employees with 22 million kroner ($3.18m, €2.95m).
The Danish labour union 3F represented the employees and although the ruling was for less than the 30.5 million kroner in compensation the union hoped for, it was still the largest arbitration ruling in the Danish construction industry’s history and 3F called it a major win against social dumping.
The consortium Copenhagen Metro Team (CMT), which consists of three Italian firms and is the general contractor on the expansion project, said it would take the ruling “seriously”.
“We will read the ruling thoroughly and speak with Metroselskabet [the publicly-operated company responsible for the Metro project, ed.]. It is too early now to say what consequence this will have,” CMT spokesman Sigurd Nissen-Petersen told TV2 News.
Nissen-Petersen added that CMT will make sure the ruling “doesn’t have any consequences for the project”.
The Metro’s City Ring project will add 17 Metro stations in Copenhagen, helping to tie together the two existing lines. The project has faced numerous problems, most notably a series of complaints from residents about construction noise that have led to various work stoppages and legal battles.
The project is delayed by anywhere between six months and six years, depending on who you ask, and has already exceeded its initial budget projections.
The working conditions at Metro expansion construction sites have also been heavily criticized and another Italian subcontractor, Selia, has been reported to the Danish Working Environment Authority (Arbejdstilsynet) numerous times.
A Polish worker who was nearly killed in an October 2013 underground explosion told trade magazine Fagbladet 3F that he has worked in numerous countries but has “never experienced such poor working conditions and security” as on the Metro expansion.
A spokesperson for 3F said that many Metro workers were afraid to step forward in the arbitration case due to the fear of retribution in their home countries.