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DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish word of the day: Overenskomst

This Danish word is frequently heard whenever there is a strike or any kind of industrial dispute.

What is overenskomst?

To be overens means to be in agreement with or match something, while the -komst suffix is derived from the verb at komme – to come or to arrive. An overenskomst, then, is the arrival at an agreement. It is used specifically in the context of negotiations between trade unions and employers’ organisations.

The agreement itself is a contract which regulates wages, for example stipulating that all employees with a certain job title must receive a salary within a certain pay band, as well as holiday allowance, overtime pay, working hours, and other benefits.

Overenskomst is therefore used to refer to a collective bargaining agreement, or a set of working conditions agreed between employers and union representatives.

READ ALSO: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

Why do I need to know overenskomst?

Almost 70 percent of people in Denmark are members of a trade union, which means the majority of people will be covered by an overenskomst.

It’s when negotiations over a new overenskomst break down that strikes (or, conversely, ‘lockouts’) occur.

There are other ways of describing union negotiations and agreements with words which are also used in other contexts. These include the normal words for agreement (aftale) and solution (løsning): Jeg håber snart, der kommer en aftale, så sygeplejerskerne ikke bliver tvunget til at strejke (“I hope an agreement will be reached soon, so that nurses aren’t forced to go on strike”); Jeg tror, vi finder en god løsning under forhandlingerne (“I believe we will come up with a good solution during the negotiations”).

Example

Arbejdsgiverorganisationen og fagforeningerne er langt fra hinanden, og ingen forventer en overenskomst foreløbigt.

The employers’ organisation and trade unions are far apart in their demands, and a collective bargaining agreement is not expected in the near future.

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For members

DANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Danish expression of the day: At slå på tråden

Give us a ring and we'll tell you about the word of the day.

Danish expression of the day: At slå på tråden

What is at slå på tråden?

The literal meaning of this phrase is “to hit on the thread”. Of course, it has nothing to do with making flirtatious advances towards a piece of string, or striking some yarn, but figuratively means to make a telephone call.

Given the informal, familiar tone of the expression, it can be thought of as a Danish equivalent to “give you a call”, “ring me”, “give me a bell” or any other way you can think of saying “make a telephone call”.

Why do I need to know at slå på tråden?

It’s a phrase that is still used in everyday conversation, although perhaps more so by older generations. But what makes at slå på tråden (in my opinion) a charming expression is the fact that it is technologically obsolete.

This is because it comes from the use of cables (another meaning of the word tråd, although kabel is also used for “cable”) in old-fashioned telephone connections, or even from pre-telephone times.

The expression is said to have its roots in times when a telegraph operator would send a message by tapping morse code signals, which were transmitted as electrical impulses through cables. So you would have literally had to “hit a cable” if you wanted to send a message.

The modern equivalent of morse code — an SMS — is now wireless, just like phone calls. But the phrase at slå på tråden endures despite the fact it will make little sense to those who have only seen a cable attached to a phone when it is charging.

Examples

Vi kan lige mødes til en øl på fredag. Jeg slår på tråden, når jeg får fri.

We can meet for a quick beer on Friday. I’ll give you a ring when I get off work.

Slå lige på tråden, når du er kommet godt hjem.

Give me a quick call when you’ve arrived home safely.

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