University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


“The collective agreement is a nice present, soon to be unwrapped”

Collective agreements 2018 — UCPH staff got a 6.2 per cent pay increase and get to keep their lunch break.

“I feel like it is Christmas Eve when I see all the nice presents that have to be unwrapped. It all looks very good, but there might be some knitted socks, that I wish I could return.”

This is how Signe Møller Johansen, staff representative for technical-administrative AC-union organised staff at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), summarises the collective agreement that state employees achieved on 28th April.

The agreement applies from 1st April 2018 to 1st April 2021 and has a total economic framework of 8.1 per cent. The state employees receive a general salary increase of 6.2%, and the cap on following private salary agreements has been removed so that wage developments in the public and private sectors can be in line.

Part of the money, which does not go to salary increases, will be used to set up a new skills fund to give employees better opportunities to acquire and develop the necessary skills that are in demand in the state workplaces.

Lunch break confirmed as a right

The lunch break will be written in, from now on, as a collective right.

According to Signe Møller Johansen, the mood among the colleagues with whom she has been in contact is one of relief that a strike/lockout has been avoided. Most people also look favourably on the agreement.

She herself has not decided whether to recommend to members that they vote yes or no, as she has not had the opportunity to closely study the details of the text of the agreement.

“In a compromise there are, of course, always things that you are not so fond of. But it is clear that it is positive that we safeguard real wages and that the lunch break is written explicitly into the agreement,” she said.

More for apprentices

She also welcomes the fact that funds have been set aside to improve the situation for younger groups in the labour market. The starting salary is increased for new graduates and PhDs get their pension deposits increased.

In addition, there is a significant salary increase for the state’s apprentices and students who, according to the magazine Fagbladet 3F, can on average look forward to a DKK 2,000 a month salary increase.

Gardening students, animal keeper apprentices, and students in the property service and other green areas will be particularly favoured, according to Fagbladet 3F.

UCPH has hired 22 animal keeper students (Full Time Equivalent = FTE), who receive on average approximate salary of DKK 18,000 a month including pension, and 17 (FTE) gardening students with a monthly salary of approximately DKK 20,000.

“’Apprentices in the state get a much lower salary today than apprentices employed in the private sector, even though they have a comparable education level. This makes it difficult for state workplaces to attract new, skilled students. I am therefore pleased that the apprentices in the state are now going to increase in pay, so that they are on par with the salaries of apprentices in the private sector, the state’s chief negotiator Sophie Løhde says.

Working hours can be increased

On the downside, according to Signe Møller Johansen, the agreement has elements of increased individualisation. Managers are given greater opportunities to make a deal directly with individual AC-organised employees on putting up the weekly work time from 37 to 42 hours without union representatives being involved.

The so-called plus time rules were introduced in 2008 at the request of employers, and since the extra hours are not considered overtime, the hours are also not remunerated at an extra high rate.

The chairman of the AC group Lars Qvistgaard confirms to the news site that this is part of the payment to save the paid meal break.

According to Signe Møller Johansen, plus time is not used at UCPH at this time, but the change may be relevant for AC-organised employees of the university in the future.

Staff representative put outside the door

She is also opposed to management now being allowed to create new positions as a specialist and senior consultant and to negotiate salaries directly with the individual consultant without the union representative being involved.

“This means that people can say yes to a bad deal, and that salary developments lose transparency. We used to have a stop button, but this disappears now, so I am concerned about what this will mean, says the staff representative.

On the other hand, she welcomes the fact that the collective agreement means that a new category of manager will be set up in the state.

Prior to this, there were senior consultants with, and without, personnel responsibilities, but this will be split up so that only senior consultants without staff responsibilities will retain the title of senior consultant.

“I think this will strengthen the career path for the AC-TAP group, and it will hopefully give more opportunities to move out of the consultant track without having personnel responsibility,” she says.