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Danish unions – Q & A

How does the unions function in Denmark?

How does the unions function in Denmark?
Most workers are members of a union in Denmark. It is important to be a member of a union, since it is the unions that negotiates wages, pension, working hours etc in the agreements in Denmark. And the more members the union have, the stronger the agreement negotiated with the employers will be. It is the unions in Denmark (and not the government) that negotiates agreements and most other working conditions. E.g. there is no minimum wage by law in Denmark. 

Is there any difference between the FH unions and other unions?
The FH unions like 3F are real unions working together with and controlled by the workers. The so-called “yellow” unions like Ase, Krifa and Det Faglige Hus are not real unions, they are more like companies. 

Read about the difference here

What can the unions help with?
Besides negotiations wages with your employer, the Danish unions also have a long list of other functions. If you join a Danish union, the union will help with various things related to your work. If you are injured at work the union will help you through the complicated Danish system and also run a possible damage case if necessary. However, it is important that you join the union BEFORE problems arise. The unions will help you with all problems that may rise from the day after you have joined. It is a bit like if you want to insure your car – you cannot call the insurance company after you have crashed your car. 

Read more here

Which union should I choose?
In Denmark the workers are organized in different FH unions depending on the work they do. It is the individual union that knows their working field best. Most employees in the union have a background in the field they work with and are e.g. former construction workers that now work for the union. 

Contact BJMF and hear where you should organize.

Are other foreigners members of the union?
Yes, fortunately more and more migrant colleagues join the union. In addition, there are migrant clubs across the unions so migrant colleagues can meet others from abroad and exchange experiences. Remember that the problems and challenges you meet have probably been solved by other migrant colleagues before you. 

Read more about the clubs here

Do they speak other languages then Danish in the union?
Most employees in the union speaks Danish and English. More and more unions have hired interpreters so you can have a good talk with the union where nothing is lost in the conversation because you can’t understand each other. There are also a lot of information material in different languages that you can take – both for you and your colleagues. 

Can migrant workers become members of a Danish union?
Yes. When the work is done within the Danish border it is covered by the Danish union. Regardless the worker is Danish or not, s/he can become a member of the union. Also, it doesn’t matter whether the company is Danish or foreign. 

If I contact the union will they come and create problems with my employer?
No. If you contact the union, the union will not tell anyone about it – especially not your employer. When contacted the union will find the best solution to improve your working conditions with you. 

Is it possible to unregister?
Yes, it is always possible to unregister. When you stop working in Denmark there is no reason to be a member of a Danish union, and you can unregister. Also, the union will help you to retrieve your pension and holiday pay if you decide to leave Denmark.

Do the Danish unions oppose migrant workers?
No. The Danish unions doesn’t oppose migrant workers. The Danish unions organize, support and help all workers working in Denmark, regardless of their nationality. What the Danish unions oppose, is companies paying migrant workers to little and treating migrant workers worse then Danish standards. 

How much does it cost to become a member of a union?
It depends on which union. Normally it is around 400-700 DKK a month (gross). The amount can be deducted from your tax, so the price is app. 280-500 DKK a month (net). 

What is ”A-kasse”?
The A-kasse is an insurance against unemployment, that most workers in Denmark have. All Danish unions also have an A-kasse. It cost around 500 DKK a month (gross). The amount can also be deducted from your tax, so the amount will be app. 350 DKK a month (net). If you become unemployed the A-kasse will pay you 90 % of your salary – however max. 18,633 DKK a month. However, it requires that you have paid to the A-kasse for an entire year before you can receive unemployment benefits from the A-kasse. According to legislation you can only be a member of an A-kasse if you work for a Danish employer. If you work for a foreign employer, you will have to insure yourself against unemployment abroad. 

Who owns the Danish unions?
The members own the unions. All members of a union can speak, vote and stand for election at the local union’s assembly. Here, the leaders of the local union are elected, and also the delegates who are representing the local union on the national congress that elect the national leadership of the union. 

Read more here: https://tema.3f.dk/bjmfimmigrant/about-the-union/structure-of-bjmf