The unions and the employers' organizations are currently negotiating new collective agreements for the private sector in Denmark. Better conditions for migrant workers is one of the major themes of these negotiations. In 3F BJMF, we have also put the conditions of migrant workers at the top of the agenda, and we are, among other things, fighting for a significantly higher minimum wage and chain responsibility.
Higher minimum wage
Danish construction workers always managed to make a local agreement with their employers, on a much higher salary than the minimum rates in the collective agreements. It is, for example, quite normal for Danish steel fixer to earn DKK 226 / hour even though the minimum wage is only DKK 126 / hour.
Only few of the migrant workers are members of the trade union, and so they do not have the strength to negotiate a high wage locally. Therefore, migrant workers usually don’t get much more than the collective bargaining minimum wage. The trade union movement wants to raise migrant workers' wages and therefore we demand a significantly higher minimum wage.
In the last 20 years, several of the major contracting companies in Denmark have begun to use manpower companies that provide labor at an ever lower hourly rate. Most often, migrant workers are employed in these companies. When the company is revealed to be underpaying its employees, it declares itself bankrupt, and the workers never get their full salary.
The winners of this trade in labor are the large construction companies that have hired the manpower companies very cheaply. Therefore the trade union movement demand the introduction of a chain responsibility, so that the large construction companies are given responsibility for the workers' wages if the manpower company goes bankrupt.
Nationwide labor conflict
Usually, the employers' organizations and the trade unions agree on a new collective agreement, with various improvements for the workers. That is why the minimum wage increases by some kroner every year. But if the unions 'elected negotiators and the employers' organizations cannot agree on a new collective agreement, or if the union members vote against the collective agreement that the negotiaters have agreed on, then an almost nationwide labor conflict will erupt in Denmark.
Almost all factories, shops and construction sites will close during the conflict. The labor struggle can start at the earliest on March 1, 2020, and you are unlikely to be able to work during a conflict.
The union members who participate in the fight receive strike support during the labor struggle. You must be a member of the union by February 1st if you are to have conflict support during the labor conflict.
How can you join the fight
In the coming months, 3F-BJMF will organize a series of actions, demonstrations and meetings to focus on our demands.
The following activities are already planned:
- On Saturday, January 25, BJMForganizers visit migrant workers at the construction sites.
- On Saturday, February 29, there is a campaign day for 3F-BJMF's demands for the new collective agreement.
You are most welcome to attend both days.
If the unions and employers' organizations agree on a new collective agreement, then all members of the trade union working under the new collective agreement can vote on the result. This also applies to migrant workers.
If trade unions and employers' organizations do not agree, or if trade union members vote against the new collective agreement, then there will be a labor conflict. During the labor conflict, all 3F-BJMF members of the union meet every day and plan today's actions and demonstrations.
The 3F-BJMF language clubs will probably also plan activities both before and during a possible conflict. It is important that you and other migrant workers organize yourselves into language clubs that can put your wishes and needs on the agenda.
Please note that you must be a member of a real union by February 1st if you are to have conflict support during a possible labor conflict.
Read more about the difference between the right unions and the fake or yellow unions