Denmark faces potential nurses’ strike after deal rejected

The Danish Nurses' Organization (Dansk Sygeplejeråd, DSR), a union representing the majority of the country’s nurses, on Thursday issued a notice of strike action to employers.

Denmark faces potential nurses' strike after deal rejected
File photo of a nurse at a Danish hospital: Linda Kastrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The union confirmed its action in a statement after a slim majority of its members voted to reject a new collective bargaining agreement over working terms.

Dissatisfaction over the rejected agreement is related to the wages offered, news wire Ritzau reports.

A collective bargaining agreement or overenskomst in Danish is a central part of the national labour market model, given that almost 70 percent of people in the country are union members.

The agreement itself is a set of working conditions agreed between employers and union representatives. It 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.

“We emphatically wish to put pressure on both regional health authorities and municipalities to get them back to the negotiation table with a view to finding a solution” to the conflict, union chairperson Grete Christensen said.

DSR has around 80,000 members. It has given notice of a strike taking in ten percent of its members employed by municipalities and regional health authorities.

Should the strike become reality, that number would encompass a broad section of members from across the country, Christensen said.

It would begin during the night of May 20th-May 21st.

There remains hope that the two sides will find a resolution prior to the strike taking effect, with DSR saying it could not rule out the possibility of a new agreement being reached with employer representatives.

Christensen said the situation was “not optimal” in relation to the coronavirus crisis.

“But that doesn’t make the message from our members any less clear and we must act,” she said.

“So we hope that employers are prepared to come forward and take part in finding some solutions together with us,” she added.

The rejected collective bargaining agreement provides for wage increases of just over five percent and would have taken effect from the end of April.

READ ALSO: Trust, risk and regulation: how Denmark’s 2013 teachers’ lockout built the platform for a far greater crisis

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Greenland foreign minister axed over independence remarks

Greenland's pro-independence foreign minister Pele Broberg was demoted on Monday after saying that only Inuits should vote in a referendum on whether the Arctic territory should break away from Denmark.

Greenland foreign minister axed over independence remarks
Greenland's pro-independence minister Pele Broberg (far R) with Prime Minister Mute Egede (2nd R), Danish foreign minister Jeppe Kofod and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (2nd R) at a press briefing in Greenland in May 2021. Photo: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Prime Minister Mute Egede, who favours autonomy but not independence, said the ruling coalition had agreed to a reshuffle after a controversial interview by the minister of the autonomous Arctic territory.

Broberg was named business and trade minister and Egede will take on the foreign affairs portfolio.

The prime minister, who took power in April after a snap election, underscored that “all citizens in Greenland have equal rights” in a swipe at Broberg.

Broberg in an interview to Danish newspaper Berlingske said he wanted to reserve voting in any future referendum on independence to Inuits, who comprise more than 90 percent of Greenland’s 56,000 habitants.

“The idea is not to allow those who colonised the country to decide whether they can remain or not,” he had said.

In the same interview he said he was opposed to the term the “Community of the Kingdom” which officially designates Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, saying his country had “little to do” with Denmark.

Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953 and became a semi-autonomous territory in 1979.

The Arctic territory is still very dependent on Copenhagen’s subsidies of around 526 million euros ($638 million), accounting for about a third of its budget.

But its geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest in recent years, as evidenced by former US president Donald Trump’s swiftly rebuffed offer to buy it in 2019.

READ ALSO: US no longer wants to buy Greenland, Secretary of State confirms

Though Mute Egede won the election in April by campaigning against a controversial uranium mining project, Greenland plans to expand its economy by developing its fishing, mining and tourism sectors, as well as agriculture in the southern part of the island which is ice-free year-round.

READ ALSO: Danish, Swiss researchers discover world’s ‘northernmost’ island