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Arbitration in teacher dispute fails

After a chaotic evening’s discussions, teacher working hour negotiations have ended without result.

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Arbitration talks between Local Government Denmark (KL) and the central teachers’ organisation Lærernes Centralorganisation (LC) broke down for the second time Friday night, as the date for a teacher lockout draws closer.

Both parties have confirmed that the talks have broken down, but Arbitrator Mette Christensen has not yet announced she is unable to move the two parties closer together.

If no new talks take place, or if agreement is not reached by March 31, Local Government Denmark says that some 50,000 teachers will be locked out countrywide.

“My view is that until March 31, we will do everything we can to solve this. We will also present new proposals. But I do feel that we have touched on everything. No new meetings are scheduled,” LC Chairman Anders Bondo Christensen tells Ritzau.

He adds that his best bet is that new negotiations will not take place during the weekend, but could take place sometime next week at the earliest.

KL’s Michael Ziegler is highly critical of the teachers’ organisation, saying the initial breakdown Friday was the ‘most absurd show I have ever been part of’.

“A minute after KL and LC agreed there was a breakdown, Anders Bondo Christensen sent an e-mail to KL in which he proposed negotiations on a Finnish model,” Ziegler says, adding that the model has not been mentioned before in discussions.

“We received the mail as Bondo Christensen was telling journalists of the breakdown,” he adds.

Bondo’s proposal caused KL to ask the arbitrator to recall the parties – but according to KL only to ascertain that the teachers’ proposal was the same working hour model that Denmark gave up in 1993.

“We are ready to negotiate if LC puts forward serious proposals, and in particular to us negotiators,” Ziegler says.

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