SiD members working substantial overtime

Many members of Denmark's second-largest trade union, the General Workers' Union (SiD), are working on the borderline of the weekly hours limits set by the EU working time Directive, and a working week of 48 hours is not unusual among the members of the union's transport section. One in three SiD members works longer than the standard 37 hours per week fixed by collective agreement. These are among the findings of a study published in February 2001. The president of SiD finds these result alarming and in conflict with all working time agreements signed by the union.

A new study among members of the General Workers' Union (Specialarbejderne i Danmark, SiD), published in February 2001, indicates that a third of members are working longer than the standard 37 hours per week fixed by collective agreement - see the table below. Notably, the members of the SiD transport section - including export drivers - have a working time of about 48 hours per week. Of all members surveyed, 8% work more than 48 hours per week. The study was carried out on behalf of SiD by the Centre for Labour Market Research at Aalborg University (Center for arbejdsmarkedsforskning at Aalborg Universitet, CARMA) and Dansk Markedsanalyse (DMA Research). SiD is the second-largest trade union in Denmark, with about 317,000 members.

Weekly working time of SiD members of the SiD:
Up to 36 hours 10%
37-38 hours 59%
39-42 hours 16%
43-48 hours 7%
More than 48 hours 8%

Source: CARMA and Dansk Markedsanalyse.

In the industrial sector, local agreements have introduced the possibility of deviating from the rules on compensatory days off for overtime working. This means that, for instance, drivers may accumulate many supplementary working hours which are then compensated financially instead of by compensatory days off. According to the SiD leadership, they do so in order to earn more money due to their low wages. The leadership is very surprised and concerned about the result of the study: "This undermines the results we have obtained in the collective agreements - especially the agreement concerning five special extra holidays [DK0002166N]. It makes negotiating further working time reductions illusory, considering the present extent of overtime work," said the president of SiD, Poul Erik Skov Christensen. He also fears that overtime work will be the rule rather than the exception for individual members. The leadership will use this study as the basis for a debate with SiD branches and shop stewards.

The findings of the study reveal a potential weak point in the Danish industrial relations model. The government has assured the European Union that Directive (93/104/EC) on certain aspects of the organisation of working time (whose provisions include a 48-hour maximum working week) has been fully implemented by means of collective agreements and that no supplementary legislation is necessary - a point raised by the European Commission in a formal letter of notice sent to the Danish government in November 1999 (DK0001164F). The Commission has not yet reacted to the Danish government's reply to its letter, sent in January 2000.

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