Lockout: It’s on.

Teacher working time agreement negotiations started 27th February.

Corydon, the finance minister, who is neither a teaching union representative or a borough council group representative, said on February 28th:-

“I am sorry to say that negotiations are at a deadlock. Therefore, I have taken the serious decision to warn of a lockout for some state-employed teachers. But my hope is that an agreement will soon be found, which I think is still possible if all parties are determined to find it.”

I am not “state employed” and yet, I am getting locked out. He is neither negotiator nor mediator and yet he calls it a deadlock. Half a day’s negotiations were all that were necessary before he threatened the ultimate sanction. What a strange country I live in.

This is what Baffled Anders Bondo had to say at the time:-

“I am completely perplexed by KL declaring a deadlock. We have offered:- to teach 25 hours a week, to discuss staying in school during office hours, to look at certain types of lessons without preparation, to have the same working conditions as special needs teachers. We have used the last debate to discuss KL’s proposal and after agreement have formulated some questions to which we would like some answers. They were a question of how we could get fairly standard provisions into KL’s initiative. Instead of getting the desired response, Michael Ziegler rang at 1am and said the negotiations had broken down. I am bewildered by this call. We have not denied any demand and we certainly haven’t even given any ultimatums. For the teaching side of negotiations, the debate has in no way broken down. We are ready if KL want to talk.

And the talks went on. The teaching unions went on to make many suggestions.

Union FB share-around

What the parties have brought to the table

The teacher’s union has offered:-

  • To teach 25 hours a week, in a continuous course, which is 25% more teaching than now
  • Increased presence in school during office hours
  • Taking charge of new “activity lessons”
  • The Finnish model
  • That working hours are negotiated after school reforms are decided (as KL has agreed with BUPL, the “pedagogue” union)
  • New working agreement with the same rules as for school “pedagogues” with BUPL (that the KL did not wish to change)
  • New working agreement with full leadership discretion, where the head is free to award preparation time according to the school’s requirements, full-time presence at school during office hours, in line with other public employment. Furthermore, freedom of choice for boroughs between this and the existing working time agreement and the possibility for regions to reach their own working time agreements.

What the KL has offered:-

  • A working time agreement similar to teachers at high schools, without the right to know when you have to be at work or are free, without fixed limits on teaching hours, without rules on length of notice periods or maximum numbers of working hours. No possibility of making regional/local working time agreements.

And yet, since the government/KL were prepared for these talks, all the propaganda about lazy Danish teachers, Danish teachers with tiny contact hours, Danish students doing poorly because of lazy teachers has been doing the rounds.

You can rely on the fact that only VERY interested parties have been looking into the detail of the negotiations. Everyone else is relying on spin. The union’s “forced whole day school” schtick. The administration/KL’s “not working MORE, working DIFFERENTLY” patter.

Looking into the detail, it’s clear to see that the administration had no intention of negotiating at all. They are relying on dirty tricks to win this one. Spin, negative stories, mud slinging and the lockout as a coup de main.

The parents are not going to see that the teachers have offered to worsen their working time agreements, have put benefits on the line, have offered to work more for the same money, have offered to be in the classroom more, have offered to stay in school from 8am to 4pm, have offered to change working patterns according to the new school reforms yet to be decided.

All the parents are going to see is what is being presented to them by the state and the media: The teachers are refusing to *negotiate*, the teachers are refusing to teach more lessons, the teachers are refusing to stay on the school premises during the school day.

As the lockout drags on and on, patience will wear thin and the stance will become unpopular. But I think pressure on the union to cave will come from the teachers themselves.

I do not want to be locked out. I do not want to be unable to set cover work. The guilt is going to build, the longer I am away. If I am anything like other teachers, it is likely we will cry uncle way before the parents do.

This is a new chapter for schools in Denmark. The suggestion is awful. Working conditions for teachers are going to seriously suck from now on. The Danish populace have been set against the teachers. We are going to find that working in Danish schools is exhausting and overly difficult. We are going to find that respect for teachers and the work we do is eroded. A lot of teachers will leave. Many teachers will be demoralised.

I cannot imagine this will make Denmark’s education system world class.

9 thoughts on “Lockout: It’s on.

  1. I had a conversation with an acquaintance who is also a teacher, recently, and he said that public school is where a teacher’s career goes to die because of the crazy, useless and ever changing demands from the government. This is going from bad to worse.

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  2. Glad to have discovered your blog through looking into the teachers’ strike, probablyt the only good thing which will come out of it. Your last two posts have really cleared up what’s been going on in my school which no-one else has had the patience to explain.Thanks

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    1. The teachers are NOT going on strike! This is in no was their fault! They are being locked out. Which is the opposite of going on strike, really.

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  3. Good point Astrid, and sorry I confused matters with my talk of ‘teachers’ strike’: It’s not that the teachers’ are demanding more money or better conditions, and they’ve been willing to compromise greatly on what they already get, but the Government proxy, ‘the KL’, has literally told them that they’re not coming back until they accept all their measures! Even those teachers who just want to work for whatever the govenment is willing to pay them can’t do so until the teaching unions comply.. Perhaps this is also a peculiarly ‘Danish’ phenomenon-I’ve never heard of this kind of situation occurring anywhere else…but the destroying of the unions is like, Soooo 1980s Thatcherite Britain :)

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  4. I should be going to Denmark in a few weeks on the second part of an exchange visit. It looks like we will not be able to go because of the lockout. I appreciate being able to know more from your posts thanks. I used to be impressed by the Danish education system. What is happening is very sad. I hope the teachers hold out as long as they can and that other people open their eyes to what is really happening instead of joining in the internationally popular preference for moaning about teachers.

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