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At the trade Union 3F in København, Denmark’s largest and strongest trade union, we learned about how the union aids the workers with their jobs based on the “flexicurity” system.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff members who offered us a hot drink while we waited. Then, we went upstairs and were shown into the conference room where the rest of the morning and afternoon took place.

At lunchtime, we were served a traditional Danish meal and were also shown around other areas of the union.

What we learned about:

Danish “Flexicurity” system: Characteristics

  • Employers are free to hire and fire Employees
  • High rate of compensation upon unemployment
  • Flexible Workforce
  • Mainly financed by the State
  • Short notice periods
  • Strong Trade Union movement

3F organizes these 6 categories of workers: Green, Hotel and Restaurant, Industrial, Transport, Construction and Public. Every worker has its own union and the workers have to find the appropriate union for their job in order to receive the correct help.

The general rule is that the law makes the final decision, however the employer and employee do get a say in the agreement of the contract.

How to make a collective agreement:

  1. The Employer and Employee make a list of demands for the agreement.
  2. The demands are submitted to both the representing organizations of the workers (3F) and of the Employer (for example Horesta).
  3. The unions then organise those demands to then send them to LO (Danish confederation of Trade unions) and DA (counter part, Danish Employers Association). If the unions can’t agree on a new collective agreement, it is then their job to reach a collective agreement .

Problems for the Danish model:

Despite all its positive aspects, the Danish model also faces some challenges. The declining union density has become a problem in recent years. It means the unions don’t have as much “strength in numbers” when going on strike or when trying to negotiate an agreement. Another major problem for the Danish model is that workers from the other EU member States go to Denmark to find work. These foreigners accept lower wages than the Danish workers and therefore the Danish state faces difficulties in keeping the minimum wage high.

Our Experience:

In conclusion, our experience at 3F was very interesting and informative. We were received in a welcoming environment by very kind people who were open to answering all sorts of questions. It was very professionally organized and we were treated like any of the other people there. It was a very enjoyable experience and we would definitely recommend it to other people who are interested in learning about the Danish trade unions!