Industrial action falls sharply in 2003

According to figures published by Statistics Denmark in April 2004, the number of working days lost due to industrial action in 2003 was down over three-quarters on the 2002 figure.

The latest strike figures from Statistics Denmark (Danmark Statistik), published on 28 April 2004, indicate that in 2003 a total of 55,100 working days were lost as a consequence of work stoppages/conflicts - see table 1 below. This was only 28% of the 193,600 working days lost in 2002, or in other words a fall of 72%. Fewer working days were lost in 2003 than in any year since the statistics on work stoppages were inaugurated in 1973, with the exception of 1989, when 132 work stoppages resulted in 52,900 lost working days. However, it should be noted that in 1989 only conflicts resulting in more than 100 lost working days were registered in the statistics, whereas all conflicts are registered now (DK0303102F.).

In 2003, there were only half as many conflicts as in 2002, and on average 81 working days were lost per conflict, compared with 144 working days lost per conflict in 2002. Most of the conflicts in 2003 took place in the first quarter of the year.

Table 1. Industrial disputes, 1999-2003
Year Number of disputes Number of workers involved Number of lost working days
1999 1,079 75,170 91,800
2000 1,081 75,656 124,800
2001 954 54,752 59,500
2002 1,349 110,854 193,600
2003 681 44,365 55,100

Source: Statistics Denmark.

The central state, counties and municipalities were responsible for 11,400 lost working days in 2003, compared with 80,600 in 2002, while the number of lost working days in manufacturing industry fell from 70,100 to 30,400. Within the industry sector, it was the food processing industry and the iron and metals industry that headed the list in 2003, the latter recording 14,000 lost working days - see table 2 below. In previous years, the slaughterhouses/meat processing industry had experienced numerous conflicts of a few days, notably in disputes over new technology's effects on working conditions. However, in 2003 the food processing industry, including the slaughterhouse workers, accounted for 11,100 lost working days compared with 30,700 in 2002 - a drop of 64%. One of the reasons for the fall could be an agreement between the Danish Food and Allied Workers Union (Nærings- og Nydelsesmiddelforbundet, NNF) and the Confederation of Danish Industries (Dansk Industri, DI) seeking to control industrial action among the strike-prone slaughterhouse workers (DK0301105F).

Table 2. Industrial disputes in the food processing and iron/metals industries, 2001-3
. Number of disputes Number of workers involved Number of lost working days
Food processing 188 23,631 20,500
Iron and metals 180 11,316 14,000
Food processing 274 28,066 30,700
Iron and metals 305 29,871 32,000
Food processing 137 8,165 11,100
Iron and metals 133 14,986 14,000

Source: Statistics Denmark.

The Statistics Denmark figures cover all work stoppages/conflicts during a year, both lawful and unlawful, on the basis of reports from around 35 large public and private employers and employers' associations.

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