April 10th 2018.
This is the day of make and break.
Since late last fall, the negations between the public employers and the public employees in Denmark have been happening and there are still no signs of a settlement in sight, despite the fact that the current collective agreement comes to an end on April 1st.
The conflict has within the last couple of weeks gained more momentum amongst various workers’ unions, as several strikes have been announced to be held if the two parts do not reach an agreement. In response, the Danish Agency of Modernisation has threatened to carry out a massive lockout on a large number of public institutions and offices, if the negotiations do not come through in time.
It’s safe to say that the public labour market in Denmark is very confusing at the moment, and it is difficult to figure out what is going to happen in the coming weeks and especially after April 10th.
It’s questions of compromise and consequences that pumps the conflict with much interest, as these will have an effect on not only the development of the public labour market in Denmark but also on the politics and laws associated with the Danish labour market in general. With this in mind, it is somewhat worrying that more students are not involved in the ongoing developments associated with this conflict, as it concerns our future possibilities and rights as both employers and employees.
For many students of today, the work life they have come to experience or are soon about to is centered around certain expectancies and rights such as maternity leave, assured days off and a suitable salary in relation to one’s qualifications. With the OK18 conflict having its main areas of interest on matters such as public salaries vs. private salaries, paid lunch and expected work hours, the foundation on which our work life is built is being shaken.
Denmark is famous for its labour market policies and the so-called ‘flexicurity model’, having both Bernie Sanders and Emmanuel Macron praise it widely, as it provides security for the individual worker as well as certain rights. With a possible strike/lockout in sight and the consequences of an action like that, the Danish model could be at risk of being degraded to a lesser secure structure that can alter these rights that otherwise seem universal.
Danish students are familiar with changes and challenges, as just the last few years have faced us with a reduction in state funding to the universities, cutbacks in the SU and a limitation on how many degrees we can achieve from higher education institutions. A lot of students took their frustrations on these matters to the streets and showed real interest on topics that are relevant to their status as students.
But now the time has come to also take a stand for what lies beyond campus and student life. Let us not lock ourselves out of this conflict, because we believe it has no relevance to us. It does – both in the small and big picture.
Therefore, we need to engage ourselves and speak our mind now, whether it be taking to the streets yet again or simply just liking a tweet. Because the consequences of these next few weeks can be a determining factor in our future work life and the possibilities and rights that lies within it.