DA employers' confederation restructures

The Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) is to lose one-third of its total budget and close its regional network, transferring its regional activities to member organisations. These are among the consequences of a new strategy for the period up until 2010 adopted by the DA executive committee in December 2004.

In December 2004, the executive committee of the Confederation of Danish Employers (Dansk Arbejdsiverforening, DA) adopted the organisation's strategy for the period up until 2010. The new strategy will lead to organisational changes, and DA's budget will be reduced by about a third over 2005. The plan adopted unanimously by the executive committee will be presented to DA's general assembly. Currently, DA has a budget of about DKK 120 million and 135 employees.

The planned cost cuts will mainly result from closing the employers’ joint regional network. This network currently covers the entire country and is organised in 14 regions, serviced by six regional DA offices. The regional network will be closed down by the end of 2005, in connection with the new municipal map that will emerge as a result of a forthcoming structural reform of Denmark's counties and municipalities (DK0412103F). DA's regional activities will be transferred to its member organisations.

It has also been agreed that new and more integrated forms of cooperation will be introduced between DA and its member organisations in order to exploit the total resources to maximum effect.

Several DA member organisations have merged in recent years (DK0207102N). The latest merger has recently been announced by the Danish Construction Association (Dansk Byggeri) and Tekniq, the employers' organisation for heating and plumbing engineering and electrical installation. This will reduce the number of DA member organisations to 12. 'It was therefore of vital importance for the executive committee that DA should also undergo development and be geared to entering into a dynamic and close cooperation with these larger entities. With the increased strength of the member organisations, DA must be able to bring this strength into the DA community', says Jørn Neergaard Larsen, managing director of DA.

The main architect behind the new restructuring exercise that will lead to significant cuts in DA’s budget and its staff is the powerful Confederation of Danish Industries (Dansk Industri, DI), which is responsible for half of DA's budget and is thus the most influential member. DI believes that there is no longer a major need to be serviced by a central employers' confederation. Other, much smaller member organisations do not fully agree, although the differences of opinions have not been voiced publicly. The small organisations are not able to deal with regional work and may fear that a weakened DA will draw too heavily on the member organisations in the regions.

The 'struggle' between DI and DA is not of new. Ever since DI was established in 1992, its agenda has been to cut the DA umbrella organisation to a secretariat with around 50 employees. Since the mid-1990s, the staff of DA has been reduced from 300 to 135. However, the plan is not that DA should be defunct by 2010, but that it should be confined to dealing with internal matters such as coordination of collective bargaining, coordination of labour market policy discussions with the authorities and issues concerning labour law.

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