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BJMF Building Group recommendations to the OK20 Vote

The board of BJMF's Building Group has discussed the result of the collective agreement negotiations (OK20). This is the recommendation:

OK20 became the bargaining agreement where the 3F construction workers really succeeded in getting social dumping at the top of the agenda. In BJMF, we have helped to create an active movement and solidarity among the construction workers across trades and geographical divisions. We are proud of this and owe all the activists a huge thank´s for their tireless work, courage and support. Without you, we as a community would never have come as close to the goal as we did.

In our opinion, the negotiating leaders have performed a satisfactory jobe under OK20. We have listened to the negotiating committee and it is our feeling that the demands and issues from the colleagues on the construction sites have been brought to the negotiating table. Thus, there has also been sensible communication and dialogue along the way between the negotiating leaders and the negotiating committee, which should also be expected in a democratic organization such as the trade union movement.

The construction workers went to the collective agreement negotiations with several reasonable demands to the employers. Above all, there was the demand for a substantial solution to our social dumping challenges. We demanded higher wages for the lowest paid, so that the spread of wages between our immigrant colleagues and Danish colleagues could be reduced. We want equal pay for equal work in the same workplace. A demand that would cost the serious employers in the construction industry next to nothing.

Right up to the finish line, we stood together, on the aforementioned demand to raise wages at the lowest paid. There is no doubt that all our comrades were ready to fight for our main demands. We sincerely wanted to negotiate our own agreements, rather than conclude a settlement similar to that of the industry.

Everything went as planned, right up until the unthinkable happened. Our negotiations was suddenly spoiled by the Corona crisis. No one could have foreseen that the negotiations would end in the midst of a pandemic that shut down the whole of Denmark. The Corona crisis left us without the weapon, that the workers can launch in a desperate last resort: A major conflict.

In this connection, we could see that strong forces at the top of the union movement thought that we should complete our negotiations under these totally irresponsible and unreasonable terms. Our negotiating momentum was ruined, and the employer organization Dansk Byggeri smelled blood. We should thus be forced to eat the terms of the industry agreement or try our luck with the mediation sketch. (If a individual trade or brach cannot agree on a new collective agreement, then the special negotiator (forligsmanden) may force the branch or trade to vote on a new agreement that he makes, the so called mediation sketch. If it then, is a yes collectively to the new collective agreements on the private labor market, then the trade or branch would get the mediation sketch.)

The negotiators chose to negotiate based on the industry agreement. A number of problems in the industry agreement were subsequently negotiated. We have thus received a number of minor improvements and increases in rates and percentages which we might have lost had we not reached a agreement. For example, we have been given protection against dismissal during illness if we have 4 months of seniority. But we have also provided employers with a straw into our mutual funds, where they can seek reimbursement when our newly elected representatives are educated and when the employers must pay full wages during parental leave.

With the extremely low negotiation power available, our negotiation leaders provided an acceptable result. However, it is a agreement that in no way contains the colleagues' demands and expectations for OK20.

Our main demand was and still is that something must be done about social dumping, which has in no way been settled in the agreement. We did not get the lift of the lowest paid as we demanded and once again we were not allowed to negotiate our own agreements. Furthermore, the financial framework in the agreement is to modest. Until the Corona crisis hit, we were on the cusp of a economic boom. The companies have been increasing profits over the last ten years and now it was our turn to get a part of the financial cake. That was not the case and we have been awarded a settlement, which at best is maintaining the purchasing power of our salary.

We have also noted that several smaller unions and industries have been stepped on by the employers during their negotiations. Our good colleagues in the painters' union, the railroad union and 3F's own hotel and restoration workers are some who have been directly stepped on. This we can not accept.

If we are to stand even stronger together at OK23, we must show respect for the smaller federations and industries that helped us when our own negotiations were at a boiling point. We entered into the negotiations with the slogan 'Together in OK20' and that must be what we stand for today.

Basically, we find it inappropriate that the special negosiator (forligsmanden) did not stop the negotiations when the Corona crisis occurred. We are left with an empty feeling and feeling that we could have done the job if we had not been deprived of our negotiating weapon - the conflict.

The right thing would have been to postpone the negotiations. Many of our members feel cheated. There was no possibility of a real negotiation. Of course, we will return stronger than ever.

Based on the above, a majority of the BJMF's building group board has chosen to recommend the colleagues to vote no to OK20. We accept, of course, if some of our BJMF clubs have a different view.