LO's welfare programme adopted by congress after stormy debate

In late October 1999, the congress of Denmark's LO trade union confederation adopted - with many amendments - a draft proposal on welfare policy drawn up by the LO general secretary, Hans Jensen. Two unions voted against the proposal because they were unable to support its suggestions regarding the outsourcing of some areas of public welfare.

After a stormy debate at the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisation i Danmark, LO) four-yearly congress on 27 October 1999, a draft proposal on welfare policy drawn up by general secretary Hans Jensen, entitled Welfare requires commitment (Velfærd forpligter), was finally adopted. The congress was held in Copenhagen from 24 to 29 October 1999, attended by 800 delegates from 23 affiliated trade unions. In adopting the draft proposal (DK9908142N), delegates gave LO a mandate to negotiate with the government on the structure of the Danish welfare state in future. In spite of some criticism from the three biggest LO-affiliated unions - the General Workers' Union (Specialarbejderforbundet i Danmark, SiD), the Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees (Handels- og Kontorfunktionærenes Forbund, HK) and the Federation of Public Sector Employees (Forbundet af Offentligt Ansatte, FOA) - the adoption of the new policy was seen as a personal victory for Mr Jensen.

"This is the first time that LO has been given a mandate to solve problems at the workplace. This means that LO now has greater political flexibility, and this will be of importance to the members," said Mr Jensen after the congress had voted on the final draft welfare proposal. Of 61 amendments proposed to the document's original wording, 45 were adopted. SiD alone proposed 28 amendments, of which 27 were adopted on the topics of increased outsourcing of public welfare services, and of long-term permanent agreements between labour, management and the government. However, these were not significant changes that could alter the view of the new programme as a historic document, whereby for the first time LO has its members' support to intervene directly in Danish welfare policies.

Only FOA and the National Union of Nursery and Childcare Assistants (Pædagogisk Medhjælperforbund, PMF) voted against the proposal. They were unable to support the adoption of the final document, due to its contents relating to outsourcing and user payments in the public sector.

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