Italian firm underpaid Metro workers

A subcontractor on the expansion of Copenhagen's Metro system must pony up 22 million kroner to compensate 200 underpaid workers, a court ruled Tuesday.

Italian firm underpaid Metro workers
The Metro case is being called the largest ever arbitration ruling in Danish history. Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix
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. 

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How to reach famous Copenhagen landmarks with the new City Ring Metro

We've checked out journeys from Copenhagen Central Station to some of the city's most famous tourist attractions using the new City Ring. Is travel through town easier and faster than before?

How to reach famous Copenhagen landmarks with the new City Ring Metro
Passengers try out Copenhagen's new City Ring. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Using travel app, we put in journeys from the central station — which now has its own Metro stop following the opening of the new M3 line — to various landmarks in the city.

We also looked up journey times without the Metro, to see how much of a difference it has made for the trips we've picked out.

Before continuing, please note — this not a comprehensive study of the efficiency of the Metro, but rather a fun look at some hand-picked journeys to popular sights in Copenhagen.

The Round Tower

Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The 17th-century tower with its distinctive cobbled walkway was originally built as an observatory, and remains a great way to see central Copenhagen from above.

City Ring: To get there, take M3 from Copenhagen Central Station two stops to the east, to Gammel Strand. From here, walk around 500 metres along Købmagergade, a busy shopping street, and you can't miss the Round Tower looming on your right. This will take a total of 16 minutes including walking within the Central Station to access the Metro, according to Rejseplanen.

Alternative: Take a suburban S-Train from the central station directly to Nørreport station, and walk from there. Nørreport is closer to the Round Tower than Gammel Strand, so this journey is actually faster at 10 minutes.

The Little Mermaid

Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The diminutive but popular Edvard Eriksen statue, depicting Hans Christian Andersen's famous, Disney-adapted character, is located a short distance outside of central Copenhagen at the Langelinie harbourside area.

City Ring: The M3 comes into its own here, as it quickly brings you close(ish) to the Little Mermaid and allows you to see another, arguably more spectacular, sight, on the way. Take the underground train to the Marmorkirken (The Marble Church) Metro station. Here you can see the splendid, domed Frederik's Church, which lends its name to the new station. From here you'll have to walk 1.3 kilometres to reach the Mermaid, but most of that walk will be very pleasant, weather permitting. Total journey time: 28 minutes.

Alternative: Several minutes can be shaved off this trip by taking the S-Train to Østerport station and then bus no. 26 to the Søndre Frihavn (Kalkbrænderihavnsgade) stop. This has the advantage of getting you a lot closer to the Little Mermaid, so you save time, but miss out on the Marble Church and harbour walk. Journey: 20 minutes

Assistens Cemetery

Photo: Nikolai Linares/Ritzau Scanpix

In the heart of multicultural Nørrebro, Assistens Cemetery is the resting place of many famous Danes, including Andersen himself along with physicist Niels Bohr, pop singer Natasja Saad, philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and many others. It often doubles as a park, with Copenhageners taking a run, walk or picnic in its quiet, leafy confines.

City Ring: Take the Metro to the west, heading eight stations through Vesterbro and Frederiksberg to Nørrebros Runddel, which is at the northern end of the cemetery grounds. Rejseplanen puts this journey at 21 minutes, but it will be shorter if you don't walk around the cemetery to the main entrance.

Alternative: By taking a regional train or S-Train from Copenhagen Central to Nørreport station, then switching to bus 5C, you can get to the cemetery in as little as 17 minutes, provided connections are well-timed.


Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix

Anarchist enclave Christiania was founded in the 1970s when squatters took over an abandoned military barracks, and the community is still going strong. It is a draw for visitors who are keen to experience its alternative lifestyle and contrast with the more regal surroundings of Christiansborg and Amalienborg palaces across the harbour.

City Ring: This destination gives you the experience of switching from the new Metro line to the old one. Take M3 to the now-expanded Kongens Nytorv station and then switch to M1 or M2. One station down the line is Christianshavns Torv. From here, there's a 500-metre walk to Christiania. 24 minutes, according to Rejseplanen.

Alternative: Bus 9A towards Refshaleøen drops you off right outside Christiania and therefore saves you a bit of walking, cutting the journey to 17 minutes.


Photo: Lasse Salling, Tivoli

Perhaps the biggest tourist attraction of all in Copenhagen, Tivoli is just across the street from Copenhagen Central Station — so save your Metro, bus or S-Train fare and spend it riding a rollercoaster instead.

READ ALSO: In pictures: A look at Copenhagen's new City Ring Metro line