From the TUC

New Danish government puts jobs first

15 Oct 2011, by in International

Danish trade union leader Marie-Louise Knuppert reports on the new, pro-jobs, pro-growth approach of the new Social Democrat-led Government, led by former trade union official Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s first female Prime Minister.

We believe that the new government will get Denmark back on track. And we are pleased that, once again, the social partners will be given the opportunity to take on our share of the responsibility for making sure that Denmark gets back on the right track. Trade unions are very happy that the Danish people have entrusted the centre-left party with the task of leading Denmark out of the crisis, and we have great confidence that they will succeed.

The new government has presented an ambitious program to kick start the economy and to create conditions for sustained growth and employment, upgrading education and research. After 10 years of liberal-conservative rule, the Social Democrats are leading a new centre-left government coalition together with the Social-Liberal Party and the Socialist People’s Party.

The new government will bring forward public investment plans amounting to €1.3bn for municipal building projects such as the renovation of schools and investment in infrastructure and it will set up a fund for energy refurbishment in private households. In addition, the government expects to pay out more than €2.2bn to citizens who have been paying pension contributions as part of the voluntary early retirement scheme which has now been abolished. The new government has also extended the length of time unemployment benefit is paid by six months. Finally, we are very happy with the government’s plan to ensure apprenticeships for up to 10,000 young people, which will enable them to finish their education.

We believe that this kick start-package will, in view of the current economic situation, give a necessary helping hand to economic development over the next year.

The program is characterized by a high level of financial accountability and awareness of the economic challenges facing Denmark. Even though the new government will not roll back the plan to increase the retirement age, as the trade union movement had hoped, an important element in the government program is to invite the social partners to take part in tripartite negotiations in order to find new ways of increasing Denmark’s competitiveness.

GUEST POST: Marie-Louise Knuppert is Confederal Secretary of the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)