We publish here an English translation of an article that was published on the website Socialistik Revolution.


If the ”Danish model” had it it’s way the nurses wouldn’t stand a chance against Kommunernes Landsforening (the municipal countrywide union) and Danske Regioner (Danish regions). The trade union bureaucracy loyally supported the proposed negotiations and recommended a yes for the vote, but in spite of this it ended with a no because of the nurses own mobilisation.

After the denial of the tradeunion agreements the leadership in Dansk Sygeplejeråd (Danish nurse council – the trade union of the nurses) regrettably had to initiate the strike, and the chairman Grete Christensen made desperate attempts at appearing like she had always had the best interests of the nurses in front of her eyes.

Christensen claimed that the result of the vote had convinced her, that striking anyway was the right thing to do, which is just an admittance to not know, or at least not care about, what problems the nurses really face. It is clear, when the trade union bureaucrats turn their agenda, as a result of an election, that it’s just an expression of unprincipled tactical maneuvering, so that they don’t lose too much approval and thereby risk getting overthrown, like every other bourgeois politician. And the spiritless leadership of the strike on the part of the trade union top was also obvious, with it’s empty and non-serious phrases in order to pacify the strike, the agitation they brought forward was not serious and made their problems look like a banality, so that the strike would appear like a game from the gallery, while Christensen and co. waited for the government to stop the, for them, unwanted sate of strike, and for the government and Mette Frederiksen to find a whip and a carrot, to make the nurses shut up.

The class consciousness of the masses gets strengthened by the treason of the pamperne

In the middle of this pamperiske mess the wrath grew immensely, first and foremost towards the state apparatuses, that has the mandate to negotiate the pay and working conditions of the nurses (Danske Regioner), but since it is clear that the problem stems from highest state organs, the wrath has to a higher and higher degree, especially after the government intervention, been directed towards the government and the parliament. After the government intervention though it also became very clear, that the leadership in Dansk Sygeplejeråd didn’t want to combat the state and didn’t care about achieving any victory for the nurses.

It is on this background that big number of nurses, around the leadership of Dansk Sygeplejeråd, initiated point strikes on an increasing number of hospitals, and thereby showing their disapproval of the forced trade union agreement. These strikes have taken the pamperne (Danish slur for the top of the trade unions) and the Christiansborg-politicians completely by surprise – they was not intended that they should continue to strike. Instead of the empty support, that the legal strike got from Dansk Sygeplejeråd earlier, the continued strike has achieved a for more meaningful support from workers from various fields. The corporate vertical connection (an element of trade-unionism) between workers in (in one field)-trade union bureaucracy-bourgeoisie weakens, while the class conscious horizontal connection between workers across fields around the bourgeoisie strengthens.

Both an economic victory and a strategic victory for the labour movement

Normally the trade union agreements in Denmark are dragged over the heads of the workers, who have so little faith in the “Danish model”, that it is mostly only are the ones most faithful in the pamperne, that even want to vote in the first place and even if it ends with a rejection of the trade union agreements, they will get enforced anyway because of the groups, that the trade unions are part of (examples are are both Malernes and Dansk Jernbaneforbund’s no to the trade union agreement negotiations in 2020, that got turned into a yes because of the overall yes inside the CO-Industri), this way they can claim that the trade union agreements are “democratic” and “approved by the workers”. This is exactly also shown in spite of the vote ending with a no, and even though Dansk Sygeplejeråd isn’t part of any “cartel” in the trade union agreement negotiations in 2021, where an agreement to the negotiations were dragged over the heads of the nurses anyway by law, so here one can see how the votes only mean anything when their results supports the plans of bourgeoisie and that the only way to achieve victories is to struggle for rights by yourself – not the believe that they come descending from the heavens if you put your X on the right place.

And then the “independent” bourgeois media dare to call the strikes “illegal” and “against the agreements”, even though there isn’t the smallest pretext for claiming, that the nurses have ever accepted the trade union agreements.

Why should one follow a trade union agreement, that hasn’t been voted for? The trade union agreements were dictated from the side of the state, how about their so-called “Danish model”? Well, it was not the government’s wish to make a government intervention, their corporate trap failed, and the government intervention was therefore the Social Democratic Party’s panicked attempt at getting the situation under control, and this has now given backlash. Not only is the strike continued, the social democratic trade union system has lost all control over the strike, and the government has revealed that their “Danish model” only exists to repress the labour struggle, especially through their bribing of the pamperne. Thereby the nurses have won a strategic and political victory, by uncovering this miserable corporate three parts negotiation system, and shown in practice, that it pays off to rebel.

For the nurses the continuation of the strike has also been an economic victory. The nurses ignore the threats about fines and punishments from the labout court and threats about firings from the regions, because they are not afraid to lose something they don’t have like one of the nurses expressed “Just try and fire us – then the entire healthcare system would collapse”, like in the Emperor’s New Clothes the regions were not wearing any clothes, everything has been a farse.

It is evident that the regions are knee deep in manure. The already completely stretched out work time distributions of the nurses clearly show how decades of cuts in funding of the health sector has lead to a critically understaffed healthcare service, in 2020 this was explained away by telling the corona virus was an extraordinary situation they had not prepared for (even though it’s also irresponsible not to be prepared for epidemics), but now when corona virus is not a useful pretext anymore, there suddenly is an outbreak of RS-virus in the fall of 2021 that supposedly has lead to a sill acute need. It is clear that especially the regions are forced to meet a long row of the demands of the nurses, but they do everything to explain it away, so that they don’t admit that the continuation of the strike was a success for the nurses. And if it succeeds to educated and kept more nurses, it would also lead to a better staffed and a higher quality in the healthcare service, which crushes every argument about how the strike of the nurses have been “irresponsible” or “egotistical”, the nurses have in any case the right to good pay- and working conditions, but it’s also important for securing a proper healthcare system.

What we can learn from this whole process is therefore that the victory didn’t come because there was a vote for no at the official vote, nor of the ceremonial strike, that the trade union bureaucrats lead, but that the nurses crossed the whole three part negotiation system (“the Danish model”) and continued the struggle with their own forces.