Hopes for New Danish Meat Workers Agreement over Salary Sacrifice

DENMARK - Hopes are growing in Denmark that a revolutionary proposal from the meat workers union at Danish Crown to support farmers and production can be resurrected, writes Chris Harris.
calendar icon 25 October 2013
clock icon 4 minute read

The plan put forward by the union to the management of Danish Crown would have seen workers sacrifice some of their wages to pay into a support fund for primary production.

The basis of the scheme was to boost the number of finishing pigs in Denmark and prevent farmers exporting them Germany, Poland and Sweden where they were receiving better payment rates.

The Danish pig sector said that the higher rates in Germany, Poland and Sweden were based on subsidies being paid in these countries.

The meat workers union put forward the plan in a bid to see more pigs going through the slaughterhouses in Denmark and to prevent potential job losses because of the slide in numbers being slaughtered in Denmark.

However, the radical proposal, which is believed would have seen meat plant workers sacrifice about DKK1000 per month was narrowly voted down by the workers last month.

It is believed that the workers were concerned that there were no guarantees built into the scheme where they might be able to recoup their money later.

Now, it is hoped that a reworked scheme will be put before the workers shortly that will include some form of guarantees that they will not lose the money they are sacrificing from their salaries.

“The Danish Crown workers are still negotiating to take a wage cut to reinvest and they will have another vote,” said Nicolaj Norgaard, the director of the Danish Pig Research Centre, speaking during the annual meeting of the research centre in Herning.

"We are hoping to see a new thinking and that the workers will accept a reduction of money to invest in the industry."

Asger Krogsgaard, Vice President at Danish Crown and vice chairman of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council said: “If we can’t pay the right price for the slaughter pigs in Denmark, then they will go to Germany.

“If we don’t have the slaughter pigs in Denmark, then there is no work at the slaughterhouses and there is no revenue coming in to Denmark.

“Slaughter pig prices have to rise in Denmark.”

Mr Krogsgaard said that the pig sector – the farmers, politicians and slaughterhouses and in particular the meat workers has been working well together to find a solution to the problems of low slaughter pig prices.

“Things have turned around form what they were 10 years ago. We have really positive approaches and we are working together, particularly with the workers’ union,” he said.

“We are still having conversations about payments but we are managing to work on things where we have some understanding.

“Environmental arrangements and costs to the slaughterhouses are all part of the discussions.”

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