Copenhagen Municipality demands payment from company accused of underpaying drivers

The Copenhagen Municipality wants the company Intervare, owner of online shopping firm, to pay back millions of kroner amid accusations it underpaid drivers.

Illustration photo. The city of Copenhagen has demanded contractor Intervare, owner of popular online supermarket Nemlig, repay millions of kroner amid accusations of social dumping. Photo by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash

A new report on social dumping, undertaken by Copenhagen Municipality, states that the city has demanded 4.7 million kroner from Intervare for unpaid wages for 72 drivers who delivered shopping to residents in the city, political media Altinget reports.

The company was subcontracted by Copenhagen Municipality to deliver goods to vulnerable residents.

According to the city council, however, Intervare systematically underpaid staff while also requiring them to work for 12 hours without breaks and denying them sickpay, Altinget writes.

“Although most companies behave properly, it is clear that there are still some bad eggs amongst the companies the municipality works with,” the Mayor of Copenhagen, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, told Altinget.

“In that light, I’m happy that our control checks ensure a record high rebate to the workers who have been let down,” she said.

Intervare has repeatedly denied underpaying drivers who made deliveries on behalf of Copenhagen Municipality., owned by Intervare, is Denmark’s biggest online grocery shopping service and experienced considerable growth during the Covid-19 crisis.

Social dumping is the practice of employers using cheaper labour than is usually available at their site of production or sale, for example by using migrant workers and paying them less than local minimum wages or outside the terms of local bargaining agreements.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is a Danish collective bargaining agreement?

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Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Local authorities and a major business interest organisation have urged Denmark’s government to address a labour shortage.

Danish businesses repeat call for foreign workers amid labour shortage

Unmet demand for labour in both private businesses and the public sector has reached a crisis point, according to an appeal to the government to reach a broader labour agreement. 

Parliament must renew its efforts to find a new national compromise which will secure more labour, the National Association of Municipalities (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL) and the Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) said according to financial media Finans.

“The parties [in parliament] must be honest with voters and start a completely different and strict prioritisation of what the public sector can offer people,” mayor and KL chairperson Martin Damm told news wire Ritzau.

“Otherwise, the parties must find the labour needed for private companies to provide growth and wellbeing, and for us at municipalities to have the staff and economy to deliver the services people expect,” he said.

The municipalities will need 44,000 additional employees by 2030 due to increasing numbers of children and elderly in the population, according to KL.

Short the lack of labour persist, municipal governments could be forced to reduce the priority of services such as cleaning for elderly residents, according to Damm.

Danish businesses are finding it harder than ever to recruit staff and could hire 38,000 new workers immediately if they were available, according to DI, which represents the interests of about 19,000 Danish companies. 

Lars Sandahl Sørensen, managing director of DI, firmly believes the answer to the labour shortage lies outside Danish borders. 

“We will need many more foreigners,” Sørensen told Finans.

“It is not about getting cheap labour, but about getting people at all. We are in a situation where we do not have employees to carry out the things on green conversion that we have already decided to do, and that we would like to do on health and welfare,” he said.

Employment minister Peter Hummelgaard told Finans that the government agreed a deal on international recruitment shortly before the summer break.

READ MORE: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you aren’t an EU national?