Denmark’s union movement was marked by the legacy of local craft traditions and a small-scale economy. Although Danish workers became highly unionized, the union movement remained fragmented into many craft and few general and industrial unions. In addition, white-collar associations for supervisors, for banking and public employees, and for professionals formed separate peak associations. Despite this organizational fragmentation, the main union confederation (LO) occupies a leading role in Danish labour relations, organizing not only the majority of manual, but also of white-collar and public sector employees. Early on, the employers’ peak association (DA) began to co-ordinate lockouts in response to local strikes. From the turn of the century onwards, voluntary basic agreements between LO and DA set the consensual rules for Danish labour relations: mutual recognition, rules for internal approval of agreements, peace obligation until due renegotiation, statutory mediation procedures, and union workplace representation. Both organizations seek self-regulation, while the state provides mainly legal backing, though governments have intervened in some instances. Since the main union movement (LO) maintained formal ties with the Social Democratic party until recently, it profited from the long period of Left-Liberal governments since the late 1920s, especially during the expansion of the welfare state since the 1930s. Union-administered, state-subsidized unemployment insurance provides an incentive for union membership, and partly explains Denmark’s remarkable level of union density as well as its increase over the 1970s, when unemployment rose. Nevertheless, the ‘Danish model’ of relatively consensual self-regulation and centralized bargaining came under increasing pressure: the failure of income policies due to inflation in the 1970s, the shift towards a Centre-Right government committed to deregulation (1982–93), and the decentralization efforts of employers.
KeywordsDepression Europe Insurance Coverage Income Tempo
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Amoroso, B. (1990), ‘Development and Crisis of the Scandinavian Model of Labour Relations in Denmark’. In G. Baglioni, and C. Crouch, eds. European Industrial Relations. London: Sage, 71–96.Google Scholar
- Bain, G., and R. Price (1981), Profiles of Union Growth: A Comparative Statistical Portrait of Eight Countries. Oxford: Basil Blackwell (Chap. 8, ‘Denmark’, 149–55).Google Scholar
- Callesen, G. (1990), ‘Denmark’. In M. van der Linden and J. Rojahn, eds. The Formation of Labour Movements 1870–1914. Leiden: Brill, 131–60.Google Scholar
- Due, J., J. Madsen, C. Jensen, and L. Petersen (1994), The Survival of the Danish Model: A Historical Sociological Analysis of the Danish System of Collective Bargaining. Copenhagen: DJ0F.Google Scholar
- ETUC (1987), The Trade Union Movement in Denmark. Brussels: ETUC (Info 22).Google Scholar
- Johansen, H.C. (1991), ‘Denmark’. In J. Campbell, ed. European Labor Unions. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 87–118.Google Scholar
- Knudsen, H., and J. Lind (1997), ‘Denmark’. In ETUI ed. Handbook of Trade Unions in Europe. Brussels: ETUI.Google Scholar
- LO (annually), Beretning 1945–. Copenhagen: LO.Google Scholar
- Lund, R. (1981), ‘Dänemark’. In S. Mielke, ed. Internationales Gewerkschaftshandbuch. Opladen: Leske und Budrich, 322–37.Google Scholar
- Scheuer, S. (1989), ‘Faglig organisering 1966 til 1987’. ökonomi og politik, 62(1): 33–9 and 62(3): 30–8.Google Scholar
- —(1998), ‘Denmark: A Less Regulated Model’. In A. Ferner and R. Hyman, eds. Changing Industrial Relations in Europe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 146–70.Google Scholar
- Statistical Yearbook (annually), Statistisk Årbog 1946–. Copenhagen: Statistics Denmark.Google Scholar
- Visser, J. (1989), European Unions in Figures. Deventer: Kluwer (Chap. ‘Denmark’, 31–52).Google Scholar