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Danish coalition party wants 'overtaking lane' for hiring internationals

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish coalition party wants 'overtaking lane' for hiring internationals
Moderate party leader Lars Løkke Rasmussen is keen for Denmark to recruit foreign labour. Photo: Emil Nicolai Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, leader of coalition partner the Moderate party, says that Denmark’s businesses should be allowed to freely hire international staff, provided they comply with trade union agreements.

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Rasmussen, who has regularly advocated for more skilled foreign professionals on the Danish labour market, said that companies should be able to freely hire from abroad provided they have a collective bargaining agreement (overenskomst) with a trade union and comply with its terms.

The Moderate Party presented 12 proposals on Tuesday all aimed at increasing foreign labour in Denmark.

That includes a proposal to give companies an “overtaking lane” to hire staff from abroad, provided they are covered by a bargaining agreement.

“There are pay limit schemes, positive lists, all sorts of rules that SIRI [the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration, ed.] has to decide whether people live up to,” Rasmussen said, referring to the agency that processes work permit applications.

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“We propose an overtaking lane – a proposal that trumps all of this. That is, if you are an employer who has a collective bargaining agreement and a union-covered business, you should basically be able to bring people in on a wage that complies with the bargaining agreement,” he said.

The plan would have the added effect of providing incentive for companies to sign collective bargaining agreements, he argued.

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According to the Moderate leader, who is also the foreign minister, around a quarter of the Danish labour market is not covered by a collective bargaining agreement, a contract signed between trade unions and employer confederations to provide the basis of salary and other working conditions.

The proposal to free up access to foreign labour has not yet been discussed with the other two coalition parties, the Social Democrats and the Liberals,

The three parties in the government would need to agree on the plan before a bill is likely to be tabled.

“The proposal we have should speak directly to a good social democrat because it’s a real tribute to the Danish labour model,” Rasmussen said.

“This is a nudge to the Danish trade union movement – not least at a time when it can be difficult to make trade unions attractive,” he said.

“We [in Denmark, ed.] have a high level of organisation and a low level of conflict. We want to give good reason to maintain that,” he said.

The Moderate leader repeated during the press briefing the government’s new mantra that labour is the new currency, given the shortage that has now impacted the labour market for a number of years.

The number of people on the labour market is expected to decline between now and 2030, and foreign recruitment will lessen the impact of this, the government has said.

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