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PM: The teachers conflict will continue

The prime minister wants to give teachers and employers time to work out a solution.

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Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has no plans to intervene in the conflict between the country’s primary and lower secondary school teachers and Local Government Denmark that has resulted in some 60,000 teachers being locked out as of Tuesday.

“It would be wrong to begin speaking of intervention. We must let it run its course,” Thorning-Schmidt said during her weekly news conference, adding that the conflict currently under way is an expression of the Danish model in which the various parties resolve conflicts themselves.

“Lockouts and strikes are used to solve conflicts on the Danish labour market. That is how the Danish model functions and should function. I hope, of course that a solution can be found and I am sure that would be to everyone’s benefit,” the prime minister said.

As of this morning, some 60,000 primary and lower secondary school teachers have been locked out, leaving some 875,000 pupils without classes. Older pupils who are due for exams before the summer would not be penalised, the prime minister said, adding that solutions would be put in place depending on the length of the lockout.

“I know that the lockout puts a lot of families in a difficult situation. Many have to take extra days off, or have their children looked after by friends and family. IT is a strange situation for teachers too as they are not able to teach the children they follow with such fervour. I would have preferred this conflict to have been avoided,” Thorning-Schmidt said.

But while Thorning-Schmidt was unwilling to say whether her government’s plans for a school reform also included longer working hours for teachers, she was adamant there was need for a reform that, among other things, gave pupils more class hours.

“Our children need a school in which they learn more. We cannot accept that an average of three or four children in each class never learn to write at a level that enables them to go on to further education. We need all children to be given a boost, not least in Danish and mathematics,” she said.

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