So, what’s The Danish Model?

The Danish Model is a system of decision making which relies on discussion and consensus. If new working conditions are to be agreed with a union the Danish Model is allowing the union to enter into talks with their employer. Suggestions are made. Then compromises. Then agreements. That is the Danish Model.

In other countries, laws can be made by politicians to create new working conditions for state employees. This is not the Danish Model.

The Danish Model has secured great terms and conditions for workers. The administration cannot afford these anymore and need to scrap them. They need a do-over. The Danish Model prevents this. All that can happen under the Danish Model is compromise and incremental change.

The Danish administration seem to yearn for the more authoritarian systems of other countries but suspect that overturning the Danish Model might be unpopular with the Danish people. They might even be unable to scrap it entirely, without a democratic mandate.

In order to force through cuts to public services, they need to keep up the pretense of the Danish Model whilst bypassing it entirely.

The teacher lockout is the first example but there will be more to come.

The KL (nationwide association of municipal councils), is supposed to agree new conditions with the unions. They cannot actually negotiate, though. They have been given one term to agree to. The term the government worked out.

The unions have suggested many possible terms. Most of them worsen the working conditions for teachers and the majority (if not all), incorporate parts of the KL’s suggestion. The KL cannot agree to any of their suggested compromises.

The unions cannot agree to the suggestion made by the KL because it bollockses up years of hard work to achieve good working conditions for teachers. If they just accept it without  a fight, what on earth are we paying 500 kroner a month for?

After a short time (just over a day), of negotiation, the Finance Minister declared the talks “deadlocked”. He warned of a lock out. He enforced a lock out.

Patronisingly, the state minister has lectured “one or two Danes” who might be “confused” about the “hats” the Finance Minister has on. One hat is as the employer of all the unionised teachers. The other hat is as part of the administration, with their new plans for savings in schools. Confused? Hats?

As part of the administration under the Danish Model, he really should be staying out of it and only stepping in at the very last second as saviour of all Danish schools. He has been up to his nuts in these negotiations. He has been smearing teachers and making lots of pronouncements. The administration is so very baldly not objective. (And under any other model, that might have been acceptable. But not this one)

The plan has always been to force through these changes. If the unions do not cry “uncle” first, then the government fully intends to change the terms and conditions of teaching in Denmark by legislation.

What is tricky to balance are two factors.

Firstly: appearing to adhere to the Danish Model and only stepping in with legislation in direst necessity after a long lockout. This is so that democracy appears to be still functioning and the people do not become angry with the government.

Secondly, not letting the lockout go on so long that the people become angry with the government.

The children of Denmark are losing an uncertain number of days’ education so that the politicians of Denmark can keep up the charade of still subscribing to the Danish Model.

One suggestion that the unions made was to abandon the Danish Model of negotiations and take a look at how things are done in Canada. (Canada has had a lot of teacher disputes but seems to be coming through them now). The Finance Minister said this was disingenuous of them and a time wasting tactic.

Surely, the longer we can debate is actually time well spent, as children still get to go to school in the meantime?

What confuses me is how badly the government are playing the game. Given how much time they have had to prepare, compared with the teachers, this just seems a bit poor. The main tactic appears to be turning non-teachers against teachers. This is gaining some traction, in some quarters. But mostly, I think people appreciate the work that is done in schools. Even if some think that teachers could do more, people are not happy about negative campaigning and are aligning with the underdog. It is backfiring and it’s the only weapon they seem to have.

Also, for a group of people that want to keep up the act of maintaining the sacred Danish Model, they forget themselves too easily.

“We must adhere to the Danish Model and allow the two parties to reach agreement. Also, teachers are lazy, man, and our plans will improve Danish schools that are like totally crap.”

Machiavelli would be having kittens by now. JUST KEEP OUT OF IT, POLITICIANS. If they had only let Ziegler deal with it and then swooped in at the last minute…

“Oh, we were sure you would reach an agreement. How sad. Let us fix this for you with an emergency act of parliament!”

The teachers crying out “This is a stitch up! They had this all planned from the start!” would sound paranoid and crazy. But with all the political interference, people think that is a straightforward fight between the government and the unions. (Goes to show how little people are actually invested in the Danish Model.)

Meanwhile, back in The Manipulating People For Fun and Profit Show. Why in the name of all things good and holy, didn’t the administration come up with a wildly unrealistic suggestion, corralling the unions into suggesting their minimum acceptable price during the negotiation? Surely that is how things are done? If the KL comes with a slightly modified suggestion this week, so help me, there will be trouble. Tables will be flipped.

Like this.
Like this.

That will be several days of school my students missed out on. For a game.

And do they intend to do this for all the public servants that cost too much? Just insist on terms and lock them out until it is seemly to enact new laws? Every time? It is going to get old fast.

Just abandon the Danish Model and say the government gets to dictate terms of employment from now on. Seriously. Just drop the pretense. There is to be no more negotiation. The workers are not able to debate the terms of their employment. Only the government is able to decide these. If you do not like them, then tough. If you want to live in Denmark, you have to put up with it.

Dragging this out and holding children to ransom, just to save face and appear democratic, is ridiculous and cowardly.

3 thoughts on “Having your Danish Model and Eating It

  1. Another great insightful post on the lock-out–it is sickening to hear how the Statsminister can appeal to the sanctity of the Danish Model in the press while completely working against it in practice. Really hope that this lock-out does backfire on the Government!


  2. Great analysis, K!

    One comment, though: “The Danish Model has secured great terms and conditions for workers. The administration cannot afford these anymore and need to scrap them.”

    Well, they CHOOSE not to be able to afford them. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be able to continue to do so. They have just given everybody a shitload of tax cuts, allegedly to increase the “supply of labour”, which is kind of a strange thing to do in a time of heavy unemployment. There’s nothing necessary about wanting to scrap these conditions, it’s a choice.


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