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Angry trade unions say government is ‘attacking Danish model’ over plans to scrap holiday

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Angry trade unions say government is ‘attacking Danish model’ over plans to scrap holiday
A file photo of Lizette Risgaard of the Danish Trade Union Confederation. Trade unions are opposed to the proposal to abolish the Great Prayer Day holiday. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix

The confederation for trade unions in Denmark, Fagbevægelsens Hovedorganisation (FH), issued scathing criticism of the government after meetings over the plan to abolish the Great Prayer Day public holiday.

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FH met on Thursday to discuss the issue after the government formalised its proposal to scrap Great Prayer Day by tabling a parliamentary bill.

“This is a blatant attack on the Danish [labour] model that we are so proud of in this country,” FH chairperson Lizette Risgaard told news wire Ritzau.

The Danish model secures wages and other working conditions through agreements between employer organisations and trade unions, known as collective bargaining agreements.

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By removing a public holiday unilaterally, the government is acting outside the established labour model, according to the FH criticism.

“The government is removing [the collective agreement] with a quick fix by removing this public holiday and thereby a negotiated agreement on the Danish labour market,” Risgaard said.

Denmark’s government has previously objected to intervention from the EU in the country’s labour rules, the FH chairperson noted.

“Now the government itself is throwing a concrete post straight at the model. It’s absurd,” she said.

READ ALSO: Store Bededag: Why does Denmark have annual ‘Prayer Day’ holiday?

Parts of the trade union movement have earlier suggested they could ask members to vote against any new collective agreement if the government does not withdraw the plan to abolish Great Prayer Day.

But this will not be FH’s recommendation, Risgaard stated after Thursday’s talks.

“But it will create more challenges for collective bargaining negotiations ongoing in parts of the private sector,” she said.

The trade union confederation will also make its views clear during the consultation phase of the bill, she said.

FH’s opposite number, the confederation for employer organisations Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA), backs the government proposal.

The proposal will “increase the labour force by 8,500. We see that as a very positive thing,” the CEO with DA, Jacob Holbraad, said in a comment.

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