LO issues 10-point plan to combat relocation of jobs

In January 2005, the Confederation of Danish Trade Unions (LO) published a 10-point plan to counteract the consequences of globalisation in Denmark and prevent jobs from being relocated to other countries. The central theme is training and education. Globalisation is a key issue in the current Danish general election campaign.

In the middle of an intense general election campaign during January 2005, the Confederation of Danish Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO) took up one of the most debated themes: globalisation and its consequences for the Danish labour market. On 18 January 2005, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen - who leads the current coalition government of the the Liberal Party (Venstre) and the Conservative Party (Det Konservative Folkeparti) - called a parliamentary election for 8 February.

On the first day of the campaign, 19 January, Danish Crown announced the closure of its meat-processing factory in Hjørring in Northern Jutland. Part of the production is to be moved to Germany and some to a brand-new factory in Horsens, Denmark, which has not yet opened. Some 450 workers in Hjørring have been made redundant. The labour market - both unemployment and new jobs - is traditionally a hot issue during an election campaign. This time, the theme has been given a new angle, focusing on what can be done to save jobs in situations such as that of Danish Crown which are basically created by globalisation. Many politicians have visited Hjørring.

Trade unions traditionally intervene more in Danish election campaigns than employers' organisations, and 2005 is no exception. One week into the election campaign, LO published its response to the challenge of the globalisation - a 10-point plan under the heading 'Globalisation - a challenge we can meet'. The document was issues at a conference on globalisation held in Odense on 25 January and organised by LO. Participants included Mogens Lykketoft of the opposition Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet) and the present Conservative Minister for Economic and Business Affairs, Bendt Bendtsen.

The LO 10-point plan comprises the following elements:

  • a right for employees to six months’ retraining/education every fifth year;
  • a 'rescue service' to assist enterprises at risk of closure and employees who are made redundant;
  • a regional development fund to create investments and growth in particularly disadvantaged regions;
  • removal of barriers to the employment of adult apprentices so that more workers obtain an education;
  • a right to education in information technology for all unemployed people;
  • a right to guidance and counselling in possibilities for retraining for a new job;
  • better opportunities for the retraining of unemployed people - the current limit of six weeks’ training should be abolished;
  • better 'job rotation' so that employees may obtain education and training and unemployed people may temporarily fill their jobs;
  • regional innovation centres to create development in small and medium-sized undertakings; and
  • longer notice of dismissal to ensure better training/education opportunities for employees who are made redundant.

The pivotal point is education and training, an issue that has been dominant in recent political debate dealing with the labour market challenges of globalisation. In 2004, more than one enterprise per month on average moved a location in Denmark with more than 100 employees to a low-paid country outside Europe or to another of the group’s undertakings in another European country, typically the eastern European countries (see European Restructuring Monitor). In spite of the heat of the election campaign, relocation or offshoring of jobs is a challenge that is currently taken very seriously in Denmark. Both politicians and the social partners have independently pointed to the exploitation of educational competences as Denmark’s salvation in the struggle to maintain jobs and production.

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