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Lockout looms with no agreement between Danish unions, authorities

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Lockout looms with no agreement between Danish unions, authorities
People gather outside the offices of the Forligsinstitution labour conciliatory body on April 11th, 2018. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
09:53 CEST+02:00
Representatives from Denmark's municipalities and trade unions did not reach an agreement over new labour terms during a marathon negotiating session on Wednesday.

Talks lasting 14 hours reached an end on Wednesday with a conclusion still yet to be reached, Ritzau reports.

A deal on new terms for public sector workers in Denmark must be reached in order to avoid industrial action in the form of a strike and retaliatory 'lockout', which would have a severe effect on public services in the country.

The contract (overenskomst in Danish) affects people employed by the Danish state, municipalities and regional authorities, with a potential labour conflict affecting public services including healthcare, transport, education and the prison service.

At the end of last month, the official Forligsinstitutionen (FI) conciliatory body delayed industrial action by two weeks to give the parties more time to find common ground. If agreement is not reached, strikes could begin on April 22nd, with a subsequent lockout not before April 28th.

Talks at FI's offices in Copenhagen failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion after lead negotiators from municipalities departed just after midnight on Wednesday.

Anders Bondo Christensen, lead negotiator for the public sector workers and chairperson of the Danish Union of Teachers, said that state negotiators must give ground to enable talks to continue.

“I am convinced that for something positive to happen on Sunday, there must be some positive movement on some of the other negotiations. I think that is the precondition necessary, if we are to believe there will be progress on Sunday,” Christensen said according to Folkeskolen.dk.

Christensen described the situation using the colloquial Danish adjective træls, which translates approximately to ‘tiresome'.

“All of our time is being spent on trying to find solutions to this. So it's frustrating to be here at the FI yet again, at midnight, without having achieved anything,” he said.

Municipal lead negotiator Michael Ziegler also sounded a pessimistic note as negotiations concluded on Wednesday night.

“I think it looks heavy. We have not taken any serious steps forward today. We need to see the outline of an agreement soon, so I cannot say that today has produced anything fantastic,” Ziegler told Foleskolen.dk.

Representatives from regional authorities – responsible for the management of large parts of the healthcare sector – are scheduled to meet for negotiations on Thursday, with state negotiations following on Saturday before municipal representatives return to the table on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Danish public sector workers cancel holidays as 'historic' strike, lockout threaten to become reality


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