“It’s scary taking over after Aase”

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On 1 April, Lotte Thue Pedersen took over the post of joint union representative for technical/administrative staff (TAPs) at Aarhus University, succeeding Aase Pedersen – at a time when the Danish public sector teeters on the brink of a labour dispute of historic proportions.

2018.04.06 | Marie Groth Andersen

On 1 April, Lotte Thue Pedersen took over the post of joint union representative for technical/administrative staff (TAPs) at Aarhus University. Photos: Ida Marie Jensen

About Lotte Thue Pedersen

Previously employed as laboratory coordinator at DANDRITE under the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Completed her training as a lab technician in 2010 and has worked at Aarhus University since. 

Since 2013, she has served as union representative for the lab technicians at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and since 2014,she  has served as alternate joint union representative for all lab technicians at AU. As of 1 April joint union representative for all technical/administrative employees at AU.

39 years old, married to Frederik, a classical guitarist and associate professor at the Royal Academy of Music. They have two children, ages 5 and 10. Lives south of Aarhus and has a summer cottage on Læsø. Enjoys spending time outside and is an enthusiastic chanterelle mushroom hunter.    


Five weird ones
for Lotte Thue Pedersen
    

1. I really hit the roof when I: witness injustice. That’s also why I became a union representative. I can get so furious when people are treated unfairly. And oh yes – when I run out of coffee beans.

2. I’m on the top of the world when: I’ve had success with a negotiation or have gotten a course started that my co-workers later tell me they enjoyed and find useful. That’s simply the best feeling. 

3. I spent my Easter vacation: gardening and visiting family.

4. My favourite app is: AU Find – I use that a lot when I go to meetings at different places around AU I haven’t been to before.

5. Most people don’t know that: I took an auto repair for women course, because I’m the type who likes to fix things myself if I can. And that can be necessary when you drive a French car...    

Lotte Thue Andersen is in the process of wrapping up her previous job as laboratory coordinator at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, where she has been employed since she finished her training in 2010. On 15 March, she was elected as the new joint union representative for all TAP employees at AU, and on 1 April she took up the position, which will be her full-time occupation.

However, she will remain at her department physically, because she thinks it’s important to keep your hand in and hold on to the local connection – not least to her co-workers. 

You’re replacing Aase Pedersen, who served for 30 years and became a veritable institution at AU. What’s it like to take over her job?

“It’s scary, and a lot of people have asked me how I’m going to fill her shoes. I’ve replied that I hope that Aase takes her shoes with her, because I have my own. That said, I’m listening to her advice and absorbing pretty much all of her energy at the moment, while we’re working side-by-side during the transition period. But I’m aware that people have sky-high expectations, that’s for sure.”     

How will we be able to tell that there’s a new woman in the job?

“It’ll be a generational shift. We’re shaped by different times. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and digitisation is in my blood in a completely different way. People will notice that in my style and in how I communicate. But fortunately, I don’t have to freestyle my way through this – my mandate comes from the TAP club, so I’ll be discussing my approach with them.”    

You’re taking over at a moment when the public sector in Denmark is balancing on the brink of a historic labour dispute. What’s that like?

“It’s overwhelming to take the helm in such choppy waters. But fortunately the climate at AU between management and the union representatives is positive, and there’s an understanding of the Danish model and the tactics it involves, such as strikes and lockouts. But I also see it as an advantage, because it’s also an historic moment, with a strong focus on union membership and collective agreements. I believe that there are lots of people who haven’t thought about the fact that benefits like leave on the first and second day of your child’s illness and the sixth week of paid holiday weren’t laid down by Parliament. They were gained through collective bargaining. And now more people have been enlightened about that.” 

So you do think the labour dispute will happen?

“I simply don’t know. I had assumed – and hoped – that it would be postponed. And there’s a long time until the 22nd and 28th of April, after all, so I believe that they can land a compromise before that. I hope they can find a solution with the conciliation board. But if the labour dispute comes, we’ll follow through.”

Aside from the possibility of a major collective labour dispute, what other problems will you be focussing on in the near future?

“Well, digitisation isn’t exactly a concrete problem, it’s more of an ongoing process. Aase Pedersen, Olav W. Berthelsen (joint union rep for academic staff, VIP, and university-educated administrative staff, AC-TAP, ed.), Henrik Philipp Vestergaard from AU HR and I have applied for funding from FUSA (the foundation for the development of government workplaces) so that we can start some courses on digital literacy and digital preparedness for administrative staff. The background for the project is AU’s digitisation strategy, and we’ve just been notified by the Agency for Competence Development in the State Sector, Denmark that we’ve been awarded 381,000 kroner for it. Competency development in general is important to me – continuing vocational training is important in terms of maintaining your market value as an employee, and I want to help make sure that AU offers the right courses. In addition, I think collaboration between TAPs and ACs is important, and I’m looking forward to working with Olav W. Bertelsen. And I would also like to contribute to a good dialogue with management. But of course, first and foremost, I need to get up to speed on this job.”

What’s your relationship to AU?

“AU is a fantastic place to work, and my goal is to make sure it continues to be. And I also feel a strong personal connection to AU. My parents met at Residence Hall 1. I lived in Residence Hall 7 and met my husband at the student bar – so I feel at home here.”    

Translated by Lenore Messick

About Lotte The Pedersen

Previously employed as laboratory coordinator at DANDRITE under the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. Completed her training as a lab technician in 2010 and has worked at Aarhus University since.

Since 2013, she has served as union representative for the lab technicians at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and since 2014,she  has served as alternate joint union representative for all lab technicians at AU. As of 1 April joint union representative for all technical/administrative employees at AU.

39 years old, married to Frederik, a classical guitarist and associate professor at the Royal Academy of Music. They have two children, ages 5 and 10. Lives south of Aarhus and has a summer cottage on Læsø. Enjoys spending time outside and is an enthusiastic chanterelle mushroom hunter.    


Five weird ones
for Lotte Thue Pedersen
    

1. I really hit the roof when I: witness injustice. That’s also why I became a union representative. I can get so furious when people are treated unfairly. And oh yes – when I run out of coffee beans.

2. I’m on the top of the world when: I’ve had success with a negotiation or have gotten a course started that my co-workers later tell me they enjoyed and find useful. That’s simply the best feeling. 

3. I spent my Easter vacation: gardening and visiting family.

4. My favourite app is: AU Find – I use that a lot when I go to meetings at different places around AU I haven’t been to before.

5. Most people don’t know that: I took an auto repair for women course, because I’m the type who likes to fix things myself if I can. And that can be necessary when you drive a French car...    

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