Gender mainstream Double Feature Languages None
Sector 1: None Sector 2: None
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Carsten Jørgensen, Ane Kolstrup
Questionnaire for EIRO comparative study on industrial rela-
tions in agriculture – case of Denmark
Since the 2nd WW, dramatic changes have taken place in the agriculture sector, as rural areas were de-
populated, employment in agriculture fell and massive restructuring took place. The trends were (and
remain since enlargement) very diverse among the EU member states. Nevertheless the agriculture sec-
tor remains a key factor for European sustainable development and growth.
From the quantitative point of view, first of all, following the enlargement in 2004, rural areas ac-
counted for 90% of the territory and close to half of the total population of approximately 455 million
inhabitants. In the former EU 15, rural areas represented 80% of the territory and 25% of the popula-
tion. The population employed in agriculture, forestry and fishing represents 5.3% of the total employ-
ment in EU 25, namely 4% in EU 15 and 12.4% in new member states; there are significant variations
between agricultural employment among member states: 18% in Poland and Lithuania, 16% in Greece,
13% in Portugal, 4.5% in France, 2.4% in Germany, 1.7% in Belgium and 1.2% in the United King-
From the qualitative aspect, secondly, the EU commitments at the World Summit in Johannesburg and
the Strategy approved by the European Council at Göteborg bring to the fore the concept of sustainable
development, which requires a balance between economic, social and environmental development di-
mensions. The agriculture sector faces significant challenges, following the internationalisation and
globalisation of agricultural policies and markets: decline of the population employed in agriculture
and reduced capacity of negotiation, restructuring of enterprises with in some countries preponderance
of small scale farms/enterprises and atomization of producers, demographic ageing and high share of
women in the population, biological and natural processes resulting in specific and seasonal jobs pro-
viding low, irregular and uncertain income, low percentage of contract-based jobs and few employment
regulations, introduction of new biological and genetic technologies and involvement of multinational
companies from agricultural-food industries with greater economic and bargaining power, use of mi-
grant workforce, etc.
Industrial relations in the agricultural sector are closely connected to and reflect issues related to farm-
ers’ income, access of farmers to a number of goods and public services and social protection, eco-
nomic and social cohesion as well as to the sustainable management of natural resources and the re-
newal and competitiveness-raising of rural areas in order to enhance employment and living standards
for the entire rural population.
Finally, as a central element of European construction, the agriculture sector still has a significant place
in European policies. Economic and social cohesion as well as economic competitiveness lend a new
European dimension to common agricultural policies and need to be linked to rural development poli-
cies and the requirements of sustainable development and actions in the sphere of industrial relations.
Aim of this study
The comparative study covers the agriculture sector NACE 01, with details on 011, 012, 013 and 014.
The objective of the present comparative study is to report on the state of the art in the agriculture sec-
tor regarding the industrial relations.
For this purpose the questionnaire seeks:
basic information and data on the agriculture sector in the country;
a description of the social partners in the sector
information on current initiatives and topics on the industrial relations agenda of the agriculture
Finally, comments on national trends –of the last 5 years- are requested from the national centre
Question 1 Basic information and data on the agriculture sec-
tor in the country
1.1. Organisation of the sector
Size and structure of farmland (total farm land, arable, crop-bearing), livestock number (total and by
species) and agricultural output;
Number, structure and average size of farms according to legal status and, if possible, according with
the percent of the output for market and self consumption (commercial, semi-commercial and subsis-
tence), their share in the total number of farms and agricultural output; comments on the level and ex-
tent of mechanization, use of chemicals and computers;
FOR CENTURIES, agriculture was the main trade in Denmark, and even though the number of people
employed in the agricultural sector has steadily declined, farming still plays a vital role in Danish soci-
ety and economy. The total area of Denmark amounts to 4,308,000 hectares of which 62 % is culti-
vated, representing approx. 2.7 mill. hectares of land.
In 2004 the total value of agricultural sales was DDK 54,206 million (EUR 7227 million) out of which
65 % of the gross agricultural income was derived from livestock and 35 % from land cultivation.
The agricultural sales are orientated towards export. More than two-thirds of the total farm production
is exported (60% goes to EU-countries), which makes Denmark the largest food exporter in the world,
when compared to its population. About 40 % of the export is pork meat, but also dairy products, beef,
broilers and processed meats are significant export articles.
All land areas exceeding two hectares in area must be cultivated according to law, (the Act on Agricul-
ture amended 2004), which means that the owner is obliged to sustain agriculture on his land. The most
predominant crop is grain, covering about 60% of farmland. Winther wheat and spring barley are the
most important crops, but oil seed, rape, beets, grass seed, potatoes and various other specialised crops
are also cultivated. Table 1 shows the most dominant crops.
Table 1. Crop-bearing, 2003, mill. Feed unit
Total crop Cereals Grass and Root Straw Rape Pulses Beet
production (grain) green fod- crops tops
15.257 59% 25% 7% 4% 4% 1% 0,03%
Source: Statistic Denmark
The trend goes towards larger farming units. The total number of farm holdings amounted to
140,200 in 1970 compared to 46,500 in 2004, while the average size of each farm rose from 21 to
approx. 55 hectares. This is more than double the size of EU-average holdings.
The Danish farmers are very specialised. Three decades ago cows, pigs, poultry and possibly horses
would be found on a farm, whereas today the farmer concentrates his efforts on either cows, pigs, poul-
try, or chooses only to engage in arable farming. To illustrate this, the share of holdings with both cattle
and pigs has declined to approx. 7% as compared to 18.2 % in 1990.
As a rule, farms are not allowed more than 500 units of livestock - one unit is either one cow, three
sows (søer), 30 pigs for slaughter or 2,500 broilers (fabrikskyllinger). However, units of this magnitude
are quite rare. At the point when the farm reaches 250 livestock units, a thorough evaluation of the
farm’s environmental impact is carried out. Permission to expand is granted on the basis of this evalua-
tion shows the most widespread livestock species and Table 2 divides the number of farms and the size
of the agricultural area into the seven largest fields of farming.
Table. Livestock by number of species, 2003, sample survey
Total live- Fowls Pigs Cattle Turkeys Ducks Sheep Horses, Geese Other
stock num- poultry
32,703,376 52.5% 39.6% 5.3% 1.1% 0.8% 0.4% 0.1% 0.02% 0.1%
Source: Statistic Denmark
Table 2a. Livestock density. Animal units per hectare (au/ha), 1990, 1996 and 2002
Livestock 1990 1996 2002
Cattle 0.59 0.61 0.60
Pigs 0.40 0.60 0.70
Poultry 0.02 0.03 0.04
Source: Statistics Denmark
Livestock density, i.e. animal units per hectare, was in total 1,36 AU in 2002. This is an increase of a
fourth compared with 1990. Since 1990 the contribution from cattle to the total livestock density has
almost remained unchanged (Table 2a), whereas the density for pigs has increased overtaking cattle in
1998 to the level of 0.70 in 2002. Current figures are not available.
Production of pork/pig meat is economically speaking the most significant agricultural production. The
pig population increased from 6 million in 1960 to current approx. 13 million. The average herd size
(besætningsstørrelse) increased in the same period from 36 to 1,165. Together with increased effi-
ciency in the pig farm these factors has made Denmark the largest exporter of pig meat in the world.
The total production was 1,900 million kilos in 2003 of which 1,520 kilos were exported. (Source: Sta-
The economically second most significant line of production in agriculture is milk production.
Table 2. Number of holdings in the seven largest fields, by species, and by agricultural area, 2003.
Cereals Field Cattle, Field Crops Pigs Grazing
crops, dairying crops and live- livestock,
others and stock, other
Number of 15,278 8,441 6,532 4,331 3,939 3,045 2,217
Agricultural 528,584 557,480 527,811 175,996 360,275 261,235 42,927
Source: Statistic Denmark
The Danish farm-industry is increasingly mechanised and computerised. Only one fifth of farms have
employees, and by far the majority of these have only one additional worker. A farm with one em-
ployee, besides the farmer, typically keeps 135 sows that produce almost 2500 pigs for slaughter each
year. A milk producer with one worker can maintain a farm of 60 cows. The use of automatic milking
systems (AMS), where milking robots milk cows, is rapidly increasing as is ’robotic weeding’. Only
10% of the total number of livestock holdings, estimated at 32.869, are without plant/machinery.
Also computers are used to a considerable extent, mainly in relation to the unique computerised advi-
sory tool The Integrated Farm Management System which is developed in cooperation with the users
and Danish Agricultural Advisory Service (Dansk Landbrugsrådgivning, DAAS). In Denmark the sys-
tem is linked to a national animal database and comprises more than 25 different but integrated pro-
grammes for planning, management, production and economy. The Integrated Farm Management Sys-
tem, when linked to the national database, includes a thoroughly tested Animal Health Monitoring
The agricultural expenses on pesticide products amounted to DKK 1,250 million (EUR 167 million) in
2003, while the consumption of active substances in pesticides products by use, amounted to 2,954 ac-
tive ingredients measured in tons (Statistics Denmark). However, alternative production methods in ag-
riculture are discussed against a background of increased attention to the environment. For many years,
Denmark has been working on removing the most harmful pesticides and minimising the use of pesti-
cides. In 1986, the first pesticide action plan was introduced. The objective was to tighten up the ap-
proval procedure and to reduce the total use of pesticides by 50% within a period of ten years. Today
the approval procedures have been tightened up and some of the most environmentally harmful and
hazardous pesticides eliminated. Accordingly organic production, not using herbicides, pesticides or
fertilisers, has been on the increase since the middle of the 1980s and is supported by the government.
In 1988, an organic legislation was adopted and an organic label was introduced (This state-controlled
Danish ‘Ø’ label is known and trusted by Danish consumers). Surveys show that two thirds of Danish
consumers buy organic foods occasionally. Today there are 3,644 authorised organic farmers and up to
165,000 hectares of organic agriculture, which is approximately 6.5 % of the total arable land in Den-
1.2. Importance of the sector in the national economy
Ratio or percentage of population in the agriculture sector: employed population and employees in ag-
riculture, forestry and fishing; distribution of population by activities (crops and meat yield) and by
types of farms; structure by gender, age, level of education/professional training; socio-professional
structure of employed population (farmers/employers, unpaid family workers, temporary/few days em-
ployment, day-workers, full-time/part-time employees; number and share of immigrant workforce em-
ployed in agriculture; trends in the number and structure of workforce in agriculture (total, unpaid fam-
ily workers, employees, immigrant workforce, etc.).
Percentage of sector value added on GDP;
Annual income of farmers by various types of farms;
Minimum wages in the sector compared to national level wages; average hourly, daily, monthly
wages; variations by professions, skilled and unskilled work, by age, gender, activity, etc
Table 4. Employed persons by socio-economic status and gender, 1.01.2004
Agriculture, Wage earners
Self- Spouses Top man- Highest Middle- Basic Without Total em-
employed agers level level level definition ployment
Total 39,737 3,943 125 452 738 11,358 29,584 85,937
Men 35,738 111 106 287 489 8,392 21,247 66,370
Women 3,999 3,832 19 165 249 2,966 8,337 19,567
Table 5. Part-time workers and wage earners of total employment by gender
Agriculture, gardening Number of persons Part-time frequency Wage earners
Men 8,002 12.1% 30,521
Women 3,530 18,0% 11,736
Total 11,532 13.4% 42,237
Statistics Denmark. Note: Self-employed and spouses are regarded as full-time workers.
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION employs approx 86,000 people, which corresponds to 3.2 % of
Danish total employment. A further 100,000 persons are in industries derived from primary production,
most notably the food processing companies. Despite this relatively small number of persons employed
in agriculture, Danish farmers produce sufficient agricultural products to feed 15 million people.
Among the people employed in primary agricultural production, 44 % are in arable production, 22 % in
cattle farming, 16 % are in mixed farms, 11 % in pig farming and 7 % in other livestock farming
(Source: Danish Agricultural Council, Landbrugsrådet).
In general the farmers’ age is relatively high. The average age of all farmers is 51 years. Only 2,5 % of
the Danish farmers are less than 30 years old while 10 % are more than 70 years old.
The level of education is relatively low in the agricultural sector. Approx. 40 % of the people employed
in primary agricultural production have only basic schooling. Today, it is required to have vocational
education and training, which apply to 44 % of the people employed in the primary agricultural sector.
Every year, 1,000 young people embark upon agricultural education, which constitutes to 3 % of a
younger year group nationally. Over half the students do not have a rural background. The students
must have completed 9 years of formal schooling to be considered for entry. The basic education con-
sists of three schooling periods of 2,5 and 6 months, respectively, whereas the two practical work
placement periods last 12 and 17 months at two different farms. On the first level of training, the farm
in question must be certified.
Students can opt to extend their education and qualify to become a farm manager, thereby acquiring a
so-called ‘Green Certificate’. This type of certificate is necessary when applying for loans and subsi-
dies to set up in farming and to buy a unit of over 30 hectares. Approximately one third of the students
choose this option. Established farmers and employees can also attend supplementary training courses,
primarily offered by the agricultural colleagues, in accordance with national legislation on continuing
Today there are more part-time farmers than full-time farmers. Accordingly 57 % of the farmers
have weekly working hours of less than 37 hours. Part-time farmers do not often own livestock, but in-
stead own relatively large areas of land. In many cases the Danish farmer’s spouse is very important to
the family economy. The spouse can work outside the home, thus contributing a salary to the family
economy, or he/she can assist in running the farm. The annual gross income per full-time holding was,
in 2003, almost 700.000 DKK while the gross income for part-time holdings was 473.000 DDK. Cattle
farms are the most income giving types of farms. In average the gross income for all types of cattle
farms was in 2003 631.000 DKK compared with the gross income of cereal farms on 490.000 DDK.
In Danish statistics, GDP is not divided among sectors disregarding the production taxes. However, last
year the agriculture sector had a gross value added production of DKK 26,636 million, which corre-
sponds to approx. 2.2 % of the total gross value of added production in all Danish sectors. At the same
time, the sector of fishing had a gross value added production of DDK 1,077 million or approx. 0.1 %
of the total gross value added production.
According to The Danish Ministry of Finance, the agricultural sector has had the highest annual pro-
ductivity growth of all sectors since 1980 (approx 4.6 %). In comparison, the average productivity
growth for all Danish sectors was 1.6 % for the same period. Also, in the coming years, it is expected
that the agricultural sector will maintain the high productivity growth.
Skilled and unskilled workers in the primary agricultural sector are hourly paid due to an agreement be-
tween the United Federation of Danish Workers (Fagligt Fælles Forbund, 3F) and the Employer’s As-
sociation for Agriculture, Gardening and Forestry (Gartneri-, Land- og Skovbrugets Arbejdsgivere,
The minimum wage varies between 102,02 and 107,08 DDK per hour. That is, the minimum wages are
on the same level as in other sectors. When it comes to salary during illness, maternity leave, holidays
with pay, pension etc. the employees in the agricultural sector have the same rights as the employees in
There exist no statistics about the average wages in the agricultural sector, except from in the field of
forestry work where the average wage is 122,30 DDK per hour. According to GLS-A it can be assumed
that the average wage in other fields of the agricultural sector is approximately the same. However it is
well known that mainly in the field of pig production the average wage is higher than in other fields i.e.
field-, cattle-, poultry- and mink breeding.
In relation to comparable tasks, there are no gender specific wages differences. The level and type of
education plays a lesser role for the wage level compared to relevant work experience. The social part-
ners do not have an overview of the coherence between age and the wage-level. In certain parts of the
agricultural sector, there have been considerable problems in getting enough employees even though
there are plenty of unemployed Danes. There is a tendency is that still more seasonal agricultural jobs
of shorter or longer periods of time are fulfilled by foreigners. Especially, the jobs in fields of berry and
fruit picking are often occupied by citizens from the new EU member states. According to a Danish
transition law, citizens from these new EU Member States can seek work in Denmark on the same foot-
ing as other EU nationals. However, they have no right to receive social benefits while searching for a
job. If they find a job, they will - unlike other EU nationals - have to apply for a special work and resi-
dence permit which will be granted only if they have a full-time job on terms corresponding to those
normally applying on the Danish labour market. This means that no permit will be granted for part-time
work or work at a wage which is lower than that laid down in collective agreements. Once in work on
legal terms, the Eastern workers will receive pay during sickness and be subject to other issues related
to the collective agreement in the area.
1.3 Legal framework
Is there a specific definition of enterprise in the agriculture sector?
Employees: Pay systems for work in the sector/ wages (legal framework); regulations and particulari-
ties compared to other economy sectors; legal framework on working conditions and working hours
(time off/holidays); differences as compared to the legal framework at national level/other sectors; av-
erage annual, monthly, weekly and daily length of working hours.
Data and information on the number of pensioners and unemployed people, social protection schemes
in the sector (i.e. specific pensions scheme, health insurance, protection for unemployed in agriculture,
etc.); summary of the specific legal framework if there is one.
THERE IS NO specific definition of an enterprise in the agricultural sector. However owner-run
businesses is more widespread in Danish agriculture than anywhere else in Europe, with a very small
proportion of leased farms. 90 % of the holdings are personally owned (i.e. not via a
company) by a single owner. By far the majority of the owner-run businesses within the Danish
agricultural sector are organised in co-operatives, owned and governed by the farmers themselves. As a
member of a co-operative, the farmer is obliged to supply his entire production to the company. This
works both ways, as the company is committed to take in the farmer’s entire production. This means
that the co-operative company is not under any pressure to find sufficient raw materials, and farmers do
not have to worry about finding a market for their products. The co-operatives undertake almost all
manufacturing of dairy products, porc meat products, fur and seeds. This is not the case with eggs, beef
and vegetables, where co-operatives compete with private companies. The members of each individual
co-operative establish their own regulations. There are no state laws concerning this.
As in other parts of the Danish labour market agriculture is mainly covered by collective agreements.
However, there is one law regulating the labour market conditions for employees not covered by col-
lective agreements, i.e. the Act on certain working conditions in agriculture, etc. from 1994
(Medhjælperloven - as amended 2002). This act regulates working conditions and working time, holi-
day etc. Certain provisions on holidays overrule the Holiday Act (Ferieloven), which normally regu-
lates the labour market. In principal the Act on the legal relationsship between the employer and the
salaried employee (Funktionærloven) is also valid in agriculture, but will only be relevant for employ-
ees working as a clerks.
Employees in agriculture is normally paid per hour, which in practice is paid on a monthly basis. There
are allowances for overtime and working week-ends. Working time is 37 hours a week. Five week of
holidays and for those covered by agreements also five special holiday to be placed individually.
Employeees working under a collective agreement are covered by a labour market pension scheme.
The contribution is currently 10.35% of the gross wage – to-thirds is paid by the employer, one third by
the employee. Furthermore the agreement covers sickness ot injuries with pay, right to stay home in
connection with children’s first day of sickness, and maternity leave with 14 weeks of pay.
Normally employees are member of a unemployment insurance fund – and all Danes are covered by
the Public Health Insurance. It is possible to sign private insurances on both unemployment and illness.
Unemployment is not statistically covered by sector in Denmark. The system of protection and support
is a two string system covering insured unemployed and uninsured unemployed. The unemployment
rate in Denmark is (April 2005) 5.9% of the work force or 164,000 by number.
Question 2 Description of the Social partners in the sector
2.1. Professional/employers’/trade union organisations in agriculture
Legislation in the field, number of organisations, level of representativeness, national and international
There is no legislation in this area, due to the Danish labour market model which is based very largely
on regulation by means of collective agreements, with the government and parliament rarely involved.
Collective agreements and labour market organisations do not have to be legally recognised. It is vol-
untary to be member of an organisation and the freedom of association is secured in the Constitution
and in the Basic Agreement in the area.
The employees in the sector of agriculture are mainly organised in unions affiliated in the Danish Con-
federation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisationen i Danmark, LO). Most of the employees in the pri-
mary agricultural sector are covered by the United Federation of Danish Workers (Fagligt Fælles For-
bund,3F). The so-called ‘green group’ (which also includes food processing) in 3F, organises a wide
range of craftsmen concluding animal-keepers, landscape gardeners, production gardeners, greenhouse
gardeners, agriculture assistants, forest workers and dairy workers. Besides this The Danish Food and
Allied Workers Union (Nærings- og Nydelsesmiddelarbejder Forbundet, NNF) organises both skilled
and unskilled workers within slaughtering and meat processing, bakery, dairy, tobacco, and choco-
late/confectionery industries. A smaller portion of employees in the agricultural sector are covered by
the Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees in Denmark (Handels- og Kontorfunktionærernes
Forbund, HK), the Union of Danish Metalworkers (Dansk Metal), the Danish Union of Clerical work-
ers (Dansk Funtionærforbund, DFF) and the Association of Danish Inseminators (Foreingen af danske
inseminører) which is a member of the second largest umbrella of employees’ organisation, the Con-
federation of Salaried Employees and Civil Servants (Funktionærernes og Tjenestemændenes Fælles-
On behalf of the employers, the Danish Confederation of Employers' Associations in Agriculture
(Sammenslutningen af Landbrugets Arbejdsgiverforeninger, SALA) is the central organisation of em-
ployers' associations and companies within the agricultural field, i.e. farming, forestry, horticulture,
nurseries, landscape gardeners, agricultural entrepreneurs, farm supply companies etc. as well as dair-
ies and abattoirs. At present there are six employers' associations affiliated to SALA which cover Em-
ployer’s Association of Dairies and Ice Cream Industry (Mejeribrugets Arbejdsgiverforening, MA),
Employer’s Association for Agriculture, Gardening and Forestry (Gartneri-, Land- og Skovbrugets Ar-
bejdsgivere, GLS-A), Association of Landscape Gardeners (Danske Anlægsgartnere, LDA), Danish
Cattle Breeding and A.I. Societies (Kvægavlsforeningen Dansire, KD) and Danish Co-operative Farm
Supply (Dansk Landbrugs Grovvareselskab, DLG). The Association of Employers in the Slaughter-
house Sector (Slagteriernes Arbejdsgiverforening, SA) resigned in 2002 from SALA and joined the
Confederation of Danish Industries (Dansk Industri, DI), which is a member of the umbrella-
organisation in the private sector Danish Employers' Confederation (Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening, DA).
2.2 Roles and competences
Representation of farmers’ interests in tripartite social dialogue institutions at national level (Social and
Economic Council, nationally and locally representative employers’ organisations and trade unions,
etc.); cooperation with national organisations in industry, services, etc;
THERE ARE NO official/formal tripartite institutions in Denmark. Tripartite dialogue is better charac-
terised as an ad-hoc dialogue. The agricultural sector is independent in relation to the manufacturing
and service sector and the public sector. SALA takes part together with the employees’ confederation
LO in tripartite dialogue with the government and SALA represents its member toward the political
IR in agriculture are mainly regulated through the Basic Agreement and the Co-operation Agreement
between SALA and LO. SALA and LO both coordinate collective bargaining but do not take active
part – only in case of dispute.
SALA is co-operating with the pure trade interest association, the Agricultural Council of Denmark
(Landbrugsraadet) and its member organisations in questions of common interest. The Agricultural
Council of Denmark is a joint committee for the Danish farmers' associations, the federation of Danish
cooperatives and a number of professional organisations which represent the cooperative, owned part
of the food industry, as well as part of the privately owned food industry. As a co-ordination body, the
Agricultural Council represents all the main agricultural organisations on a number of issues vis-à-vis
the Danish government and parliament, and in relation to other countries. The Council has a total of 34
When it comes to international affairs, The Danish Council for Trade and Industry, Danmarks Erh-
vervsråd, has posted state counsellors in both established markets and new, potentially interesting des-
tinations. These counsellors are based at Danish diplomatic representatives abroad and deal with agri-
cultural and food aspects in the respective countries. Their task is to assist Danish exporters, find new
exporting opportunities, and to keep the Danish farming business community posted on political devel-
opments in the agricultural sector which could affect trade.
2.3. Points of view
Points of view expressed by the Government and main actors on industrial relations in agriculture; their
standpoints on the EU Common Agricultural Policy and national agricultural policy;
FROM A POLITICAL point of view, the EU agricultural subsidies have often been criticised and a
majority of the Danish parliament have, at several occasions, decided to work for an elimination of the
subsidies. However, Danish agriculturalists presented in the Danish Agricultural Council (Landbrugs-
raadet) emphasise that some support is needed but at the same time it is said that the subsidies should
be more focused than what is currently the case.
Nonetheless, Danish agriculturalists support a gradual further liberalisation of the EU Common Agri-
cultural Policy, but the premise for this opinion is, that the liberalisations lies on international agree-
ments ensuring that all countries contribute equally to the process.
In connection with agriculture's multi-functional role in the EU of the future, the Danish Agricultural
Council points to the need for discussing measures and restrictions that will involve costs, which can-
not be covered via the market. The issues involved are in particular environmental measures, nature
preservation and rules on animal welfare.
Concerning the new EU member states, the government intends to continue the agricultural collabora-
tion that has already begun with agricultural authorities and organisations in the Baltic states and the
rest of East and central Europe (The Danish Government's Food Policy Report II).
Question 3 Industrial relations in the sector
3.1. Main work conflicts over the past 5 years
Manner of resolution; please specify any conflicts between farmers and food processing workers;
Conflict resolution take place according to Danish labour law (Lov om arbejdsretten). The social part-
ners are represented together with supreme court judges in the Industrial Court, where conflicts in con-
nection with breaches of an agreement are settled. If, on the other hand, there is disagreement concern-
ing the interpretation of the agreement, the dispute must be settled by an industrial arbitration tribunal
(faglig voldgift). The legal regimen of conflict resolution is the Standard Rules for Handling Industrial
Disputes from 1910 (Danish abbreviation is “Normen”)
Work conflicts, in relation to the field of agriculture, mainly arise among the strike-prone slaugterhouse
workers in food industry, which almost every year top the list of number of conflicts. The disputes are
very often rooted in disputes of work organisation and new technigues. Work conflicts in primary agri-
culture, on the other hand, are very seldom. All collective agreements include a peace obligation, i.e.
strikes are not allowed in this period. Even so it is still a measure informally recognised as a means of
industrial action – but since it is in contrast with the agreements a penalty is almost always given in
Currently 350 slaughterhouse workersworkers on Danish Crowns new giant slaughterhouse in Horsens,
which is the biggest in Northern Europe, are on strike. The reason for the strike is dissatisfaction with a
new payment system. Although the technical standards in the slaughterhouse are very high, the workers
pinpoint that the rate of the piece-work is unrealistic.
Another significant conflict took place last year between The Danish General Workers’ Union for
(Specialarbejderforbundet i Danmark, SiD), The Danish Women Workers’ Union (Kvindeligt Arbe-
jderforbund, KAD) the Danish Food & Allied Workers Union (Nærings- og Nydelsesmiddelforbundet,
NNF), the Danish Dairy Technicians’ Union (Danske Mejerister) and The Association of Danish Dairy
Employers (Mejeribrugets Arbejdsgiverforening). The conflict arose when the average wage in The
Confederation of Danish Employers’ 2002 wage statistics for processing and machine operators, rose
more than expected because 17,000 higher paid butchers were included. The hourly wage for this group
thus increased by DKK 7.92 instead of DKK 3.67. While initially, the Association of Danish Dairy
Employers refused to recognise the increase, industrial arbitration in September 2004 overruled the
employers’ decision. In November 2004, 10,000 dairy technicians, dairy workers and drivers received
an extraordinary payment of DKK 3.40 per working hour for the period 29 September 2003 to 26 Sep-
tember 2004. As the employer of the majority of the 10,000 employees, Arla Foods incurred extra costs
of approx. DKK 40 million. Since then, employers and labour organisations have held a series of meet-
ings to discuss the details of the settlement.
3.2. Frequent, current issues and recent initiatives in industrial relations
in the sector
The Co-operation Agreement between LO and SALA was renewed in August 2001 (DK0109133N)
In 2003, workers in the Danish slaughterhouses and meat processing sector signed a collective agree-
ment which introduced a 'free choice' scheme, whereby workers could choose between spending 2.7%
of the wage bill on more leisure time, a higher pension or higher wages (DK0305101N). That agree-
ment led to a breakthrough in the introduction of greater 'individual options' within the collective
framework of the agreements. Many other workers have shown interest in this model, i.e. the dairy
workers. However, the ‘free choice’ scheme has not spread to the trend-setting private sector, but has
had impact in the financial sector as well.
3.3. Types, content and levels of negotiation
What is negotiated, participants, agreements concluded or underway and for what length of time;
Examples: system of prices and subsidies; ways of ensuring farmers’ income and wages and size of in-
come and wages; issues related to vocational training, qualifications, graduation certificates, systems of
workforce evaluation, recruitment and placement; opinions on seasonal and immigrants’ work, etc.
IN EARLY SPRING 2005 the so-called green sector under SALA and LO (agriculture etc.) sector con-
cluded agreements which will run for a three-year period (DK0504101N). The pace-setting agreement
is concluded between the United Federation of Danish Workers (Fagligt Fælles Forbund, 3F) and the
association of employers in agriculture, horticulture and forestry (Gartneri-, Land- og Skovbrugets Ar-
bejdsgivere, GLS-A). The agreements, among other things, comprise an increase of the hourly wage by
just over DKK 8.0, or 9% over the three-year period and an increase of the pension contribution by
1.65% over the three-year period. All bonuses, allowances and increments will be raised by 3% each
year and a full wage for one week in connection with hospitalisation of a child. Pay during maternity
will be extended to four weeks before the expected dated of birth with new sector agreements concern-
ing equalisation schemes in connection with pregnancy and maternity. Higher wages will be awarded
to apprentices and trainees and new training fund for maintenance of jobs and upgrading of skills.
Question 4. Comments from the NC
Please add here any other comments on the national trends on industrial relations in agriculture, in the
last 5 years, and prospective approach.
AS EMPHASISED earlier, the employers in the field of agriculture find it hard to hire people for cer-
tain jobs, for example fruit and berry picking. The unemployment rate for the immigrant workforce in
Denmark is considerably higher than for the rest of the population, and in general the immigrants find
it harder to get a job than the ethnic Danes. On that background LO and SALA currently co-operate on
an integration-project, aiming to create better job possibilities for the immigrations in SALAs member-
Recent figures from the Ministry of Employment regarding employment permissions given to new
workers from the East show that agriculture tops the list. As it appears almost half of the working per-
mits concerns agriculture and gardening. The current number (838 persons) is a little below the number
from December 2004 (886 persons) which most likely is due to a seasonally adjusted cycle within the
sector. Thus, it seems that the employers in agriculture might solve the problem of mising work force
in peak seasons by hiring Eastern European workers according to the transitional law. Apart from that
it is known that this problem also to a certain degree have been solved by hiring illegal work force.
On the political scene, the current liberal-conservative Danish government and the Danish People’s
Party (Dansk Folkeparti) last year came to agreement about a reform for the framework of public tasks
and public service. With this agreement, the counties will be dissolved and five elected regions will be
established in 2007. Larger and more sustainable municipalities will be given the responsibility to han-
dle most of the citizen-related tasks. In the agricultural sectors – as in other sectors – it is currently an
issue among the organisations to maintain the contact, dialogue and influence on topics related to the
Danish agricultural tasks. Also in this area, it is necessary to remove historical traditions and create
new relations in order to be part of the new political framework.
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The deadline for the submission of responses to the normal EIRO submission e-mail address by na-
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