Backfiring Lockout

This lockout is the most stupid tactic I have ever seen in my life.

Of course there are some misinformed people who still think it is a strike. (Which I believe was the masterplan) But most people seem to have realised what is going on is quite unprecedented.

Thing about teachers is: we actually give a shit about your children. We also have a lot of work to do. Going on strike for more than a day is not something teachers do. It would have to be for something pretty major. And even then. More than a day? How would we get all the curriculum covered? I have never been part of a teaching strike in my life. When the other union had one back in the UK, it was for one day. More than one day would have been unpopular with members as it is completely amoral.

The lockout has gone on for four days now and there is no sign that it is going to stop any time soon. The politicians (including the mayors), do not appear to care about your children. That is a bad sign.

Their one and only suggestion is also pretty poor, in terms of what it will achieve for students. Their one and only suggestion just removes rules about what is overtime and what isn’t. I am not sure that sabotaging the goodwill of the educators of Denmark is pedagogically sound.

Their gameplan is completely messed up. Is their strategy to turn parents against teachers? They do realise we will have to work with each other after the lockout, right? If this plan succeeds, then parents will treat us with nothing more than contempt. Double thumbs up, politicos.

The government are relying on people not knowing what is happening so they would just be convinced it is a case of two stubborn sides. They are hoping that people will blame teachers (who ought to have children’s best interests at heart), more for this stubborn streak than the mayors are blamed. They are hoping that people have not noticed that the teacher unions have made several concessions and the KL have made none. They are hoping that no one remembers that the KL had a secret meeting about the talks with the government without letting the teachers in, way back. They are hoping that they sound objective and neutral when the politicians make pronouncements about how teachers are not doing a good enough job and this deal will fix everything. They are hoping no one has noticed how much tax money has been spent on all those magazine, billboard and internet adverts about how “teachers are the laziest, man”.

If people are not paying attention then their sympathy with the teachers will run out with no increased irritation with the government. But they are paying attention and it is massively backfiring.

Hardly anyone believes their “oh we cannot step in and do politician stuff because um Danish Model”, everyone is saying “Oh for heaven’s sake, yes, Danish Model blah blah blah(!) Yes, this is totally a legitimately deadlocked debate(!) Just un-lockout the teachers. Jesus.”

The message of “our plan will improve schools” has been lost in the noise. The message of “it’s totally the lazy teachers’ fault this is happening” is not coming over. Bondo (the teacher union man), is seen as more trustworthy.

On the protest today, there was one man yelling at us to “get back to work”, versus about a dozen people shouting support or pipping us with their car horns. The majority of people looked sort of supportive if neutral. I did not spot any obvious signs of contempt or irritation from passersby.

I cannot believe that I am being prevented from doing my job by the government. I think they have misunderstood how lockouts work. Lockouts are to prove to the workers that they are not as valuable as they think, so you can force worse conditions on them.

This lockout is pretty much confirming “jaysus, but aren’t schools really important in this day and age!”

Why couldn’t they have worked out terms and conditions that would have saved money and were more likely to be taken by the unions? There are loads of things the unions have accepted, like more teaching hours per week and having to spend the working day on site. Why didn’t the government just work out what would have gone over better and made the savings they could?

It is like they set their hearts on a figure and cannot back down from it, even though it is unachievable.

My prediction is that a lot of people will leave teaching. There will be a lot of early retirement and stress leave retirement. There will be people who prefer A kasse to being treated like dirt.

Meanwhile, in politics. They have angered the blue voters for having a lockout in the first place and the red voters by treating workers badly. Enhedslisten and Dansk Folkeparti are agreeing with each other (about “stop fucking about and just admit the Danish Model is over”)

I just want this to be over. Can I go back to work, yet?

Having your Danish Model and Eating It

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.