New cooperation agreement signed in agriculture
In August 2001, the LO trade union confederation and SALA employers' organisation signed a new cooperation agreement for the agriculture sector. The agreement aims to help prevent labour market exclusion, giving company-level cooperation committees a role in matters concerning the retention and integration of employees with a reduced working capacity. The new deal may be the first step towards a revision of the wider cooperation agreement between LO and the DA employers' confederation.
In August 2001, the Confederation of Danish Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO) and the Danish Confederation of Employers' Associations in Agriculture (Sammenslutningen af Landbrugets Arbejdsgiverforeninger, SALA) concluded a new cooperation agreement, which covers about 55,000 employees in enterprises in the agricultural sector. This constitutes a revision and extension of the existing cooperation agreement between LO and SALA and one of the aims is to intensify initiatives aimed at promoting an 'inclusive labour market' (DK0104117N).
According to the agreement, the cooperation committees in enterprises may in future take up such matters as the prevention of labour market exclusion and the integration of employees with reduced working capacity. Cooperation committees will also have the task of working to promote the well-being and security of employees, for instance by taking up issues related to a good 'psychological working environment'. Furthermore, the issues of equal opportunities for women and men and equal treatment of employees with different ethnic backgrounds have now been incorporated into the cooperation agreement itself. Until now, these matters were mentioned only in a protocol to the cooperation agreement.
'The wish to give sick people, disabled people and other persons with reduced working capacity a chance on the labour market can only be fulfilled if the management and the employees in individual enterprises are actively involved in this task. With the new cooperation agreement, LO and SALA have created a concrete instrument which can be used to make these visions come true. That is a very positive step,' said Ib Vistisen, the LO union secretary.
The managing director of SALA, Niels J Andreasen, expressed his satisfaction with a change in the agreement whereby what were earlier referred to as, respectively, the 'A' and 'B' side in cooperation committees, are now referred to as 'management representatives' and 'employee representatives'. For SALA, this clarifies the role of the two parties in the cooperation process, replacing the unclear concepts and undesirable connotations of A and B sides, which gave out a bad signal about the division of labour in enterprises. 'The task is to focus on job satisfaction and competitiveness and this task is the same for all of us,' said Mr Andreasen.
The revised agreement replaces the cooperation agreement of 22 December 1986 and will come into operation on 1 October 2001. The first cooperation agreement between LO and SALA was concluded in 1966 and was more or less an identical copy of the cooperation agreement which had been concluded in the private sector between LO and the Danish Employers' Confederation (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA). It is not known whether this new agreement between LO and SALA will be seen as a prelude to a major revision of the LO/DA cooperation agreement, which covers a much larger number of sectors of employment. LO hopes that this will be the case and the recently concluded agreement between the Central Organisation of Industrial Employees in Denmark (Centralorganisationen af industriansatte, CO-industri) - the cartel of LO trade unions in industry - and the Confederation of Danish Industries (Dansk Industri, DI) concerning the psychological working environment (DK0106124F) may be seen as a lever for the incorporation of similar provisions in a revised LO/DA cooperation agreement.