Teachers' lockout 2013

In April 2013, about 44,000 members of the Danish Union of Teachers were locked out of the public primary and secondary schools for almost four weeks.

The lockout was the culmination of a long and tough struggle, in which the employers and the Danish government had planned in advance that the fundamental agreements on Danish teachers’ working hours were to be abolished. The lockout ended with a political intervention with unanimous support for the employers. This circumvented all the normal rules on the Danish labour market, and the “Danish model” of collective bargaining is now under threat.

During the lock-out the teachers have lost almost a month’s salary. In the same period of time the municipalities have saved approximately a billion Danish kroner (133,333,000 €) on the lock-out.

Subsequently the Danish Union of Teachers lodged a complaint against the Danish government with the ILO. The ILO decision from November 2014 had the following conclusions.

The negotiations of the collective agreement for 2013 were hampered by the Danish government, and the government disregarded essential principles of several ILO Conventions. The government was not able to keep the “arm’s length principle” and blurred their roles as employer and legislator in an unfortunate way. The ILO decision also establishes that the legislators have to consult both parties – not just one of the parties – if they need technical assistance in connection with drafting of the legislative intervention.

Public employers have a very special responsibility for protecting free negotiations. The model is based on the decisive precondition that the negotiations are free and that the legislative power and the employers’ role are not being mixed up. The ILO states that the course of events in relation to the lockout and the government’s intervention was not in accordance with the rules. It is quite decisive that the ILO states that they will monitor the situation in Denmark to ensure that the rules are observed.

 Link to the ILO report