New collective agreement for state employees is finalised

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On Saturday February 6, the trade unions and the state finalised the new collective agreement, which will apply to state employees for the next three years, if it is voted through by the unions’ members. The new collective agreement guarantees among other things pay increments of 4.42%, a new senior bonus, better terms for maternity and paternity leave for employees on fixed-term contracts, and collective agreement coverage for hourly-paid teaching staff at the university.

2021.03.03 | Marie Groth Andersen

When taxation minister Morten Bødskov (S) and main negotiator for state employees, chairperson of CFU, Rita Bundgaard finalised the OK21 negotiations with a new collective agreement for state employees on Saturday, no handshakes were exchanged, but instead they agreed on the deal with a corona-elbow greeting. Photo: Danish Ministry of Taxation

Facts: Examples of what is included in the new collective agreement

  • Pay increase of 4.42%
  • Introduction course for newly-qualified graduates
  • Teachers paid hourly are covered by the collective agreement for part-time lecturers
  • Improved maternity/paternity leave for employees on fixed-term contracts, for example PhD students, postdocs and assistant professors
  • Senior bonus for employees over 62 years
  • Bereavement leave for up to 6 months for both parents who have lost a child
  • The Competence Fund will continue
  • Employees should be involved with the green transformation of the workplace before tendering or outsourcing the work.

READ MORE: The conciliation texts (in Danish) 

The result of the collective agreement negotiations will be put to the vote among the trade unions. If voted through, the new collective agreement will come into force from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2024.

The expectations of this year’s collective agreement negotiations have been subdued because of the Covid-19 crisis. And state employees also had to deal with a reduction in salary since January due to the so-called regulation scheme, which regulates pay levels between the public and private sectors. This scheme usually means that public salaries increase in keeping with private salaries, but this year as a consequence of the corona virus epidemic the opposite has occurred.  

Pay increase of 4.42%, senior bonus and lecturer supplements 

But a pay increase of 4.42% has been agreed for state employees which will be implemented over the three year period. The agreement has also secured an increase in the associate professor supplement payments and employees over 62 will receive a senior bonus, which corresponds to 0.8% of their gross pay.

Joint union representatives are for the most part satisfied

Lotte Thue Pedersen, union representative for technical-administrative staff (TAP) at AU, and Olav W. Bertelsen, union representative for academic staff and academic staff in administrative positions (VIP/AC-TAP), both declared that they are satisfied with the result of the negotiations, even though they both wanted to see higher salary increases.

Lotte Thue Pedersen, union representative
for technical/administrative staff (TAP).

“Considering the atmosphere and state announcements in relation to corona prior to the negotiations, the result is OK. Salaries are now set to keep up with expected inflation, which is really positive,” said Lotte Thue Pedersen, who stressed that she hadn’t had an opportunity yet to delve into the details of the agreement reached.

Hoped for more free choice 

She pointed out that some, including members of HK (National Union of Commercial and Clerical Employees) had hoped for an agreement on a so-called free choice scheme, which would have given individual employees more freedom of choice in relation to salary, pension and holidays. However, this was not achieved.

“I think that some will be disappointed and I would also have liked to have seen more freedom of choice. But we know from looking at the private sector that such schemes are built up over several rounds of negotiations. This time round we ensured a senior bonus with an option of having the bonus paid out as salary, pension or holidays – and we can look at this as the first step towards a free choice scheme, which we can develop over the coming years,” said Lotte Thue Pedersen.

In addition, she highlighted the increased grant given to the collaborative secretariat, which she considers to be recognition of the importance of their work in state workplaces.

“And it’s really positive that evidently the negotiating partners wanted to work together. The atmosphere around these negotiations was very different to that which we saw during the negotiations in 2018. And it brings a sense of calmness for both employers and employees.”

Improved maternity and paternity leave rules for employees on fixed-term contracts

Olav W. Bertelsen also highlighted pay increases, which really need to be considered in the context that there was very little room to negotiate. 

Olav W. Bertelsen, joint union representative
for academic staff (VIP) and academic staff
in administrative positions (AC-TAP)

“I’d also like to highlight that the pension contribution on the availability supplement will be increased from 9 to 12 per cent. And an important result within the university sector is that improved maternity and paternity leave rules are to come into play for postdocs and PhD students, which mean that they will be covered fully during their leave.” 

The new rules for maternity and paternity leave mean that employees in fixed-term contracts have the right to full pay during the entire period of leave and that they can extend their contracts for the amount of time they have been on leave without having to be re-employed. This means that the employment period will not be broken up, and that employees who go on leave at the end of their fixed-term contracts will not be put at a disadvantage compared to employees who go on leave at the start of their contracts.

How will management implement the promotion programme?

Not surprisingly, Olav W. Bertelsen is feeling very positive about the new supplement being given to associate professors – a yearly contribution of just over 2,500 DKK – as well as a supplement for assistant professors and senior researchers who take part in a promotion programme with the aim of becoming associate professors.

”But we have to wait and see how the university management will implement this programme at AU,” he said and pointed also to the salary supplement for associate professors, which according to him doesn’t reflect the long career process which typically is required in order to be employed as an associate professor. 

Hourly-paid teachers are covered by the collective agreement for part-time lecturers

Finally, Olav W. Bertelsen is satisfied with the fact that hourly-paid teaching staff are now covered by the collective agreement for part-time lecturers. Thus, they will experience better working conditions while on maternity or paternity leave, on sick leave and when they need to take leave because their child is sick.  

“This is something that has been in the pipeline for a while. And even though the hourly rate didn’t increase, it certainly is an essential step in the right direction in relation to negotiating better pay and pension terms for this group in the future. It’s still problematic, however, that they don’t receive any pension contributions – I would really like to have seen that happen.”   

The result of the collective agreement negotiations will be put to the vote among the trade unions. If voted through, the new collective agreement will come into force from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2024.

Translated by Marian Flanagan

Facts: Examples of what is included in the new collective agreement

  • Pay increase of 4.42%
  • Introduction course for newly-qualified graduates
  • Teachers paid hourly are covered by the collective agreement for part-time lecturers
  • Improved maternity/paternity leave for employees on fixed-term contracts, for example PhD students, postdocs and assistant professors
  • Senior bonus for employees over 62 years
  • Bereavement leave for up to 6 months for both parents who have lost a child
  • The Competence Fund will continue
  • Employees should be involved with the green transformation of the workplace before tendering or outsourcing the work.

READ MORE: The conciliation texts (in Danish) 

The result of the collective agreement negotiations will be put to the vote among the trade unions. If voted through, the new collective agreement will come into force from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2024.

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