Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

The Global State of Workers' Rights - Denmark

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 31 August 2010
Cite as Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Denmark, 31 August 2010, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Article 78 of the Danish constitution affords all citizens the right to form associations for any lawful purpose. Freedom of assembly and freedom of association are both guaranteed. The right to form trade unions was first secured in the September Compromise of 1899, also known as the Danish Labor Market Constitution, which set the foundation for the Danish labor model. The core concept of the Danish model is that legislation and government interference should be kept to a minimum. Collective bargaining is rigidly structured. At the national level, there is a Basic Agreement between the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Danish Employers' Federation (DA) that provides for the right to organize. There are also collective agreements at the industrial level to resolve disputes.

The LO, with approximately 1.2 million members, is the largest of the three main trade union federations in Denmark, followed by the Confederation of Professionals in Denmark (FTF) with 358,000 members and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC) with 133,000 members. There is generally little competition between unions, though in 2006 the LO and FTF reached a cooperation agreement to resolve membership disputes through arbitration. Approximately 70 percent of Danish workers in the public and private sectors belong to a union. Workers are free from government coercion to join specific unions, but nonunion workers lack the protections afforded to union members.

The government generally does not interfere in union activity or in strikes. The LO was historically linked with the Social Democratic Party, but in 2003 it ceased giving financial support to the party. In 2009 there were several strikes, including actions by trash collectors and daycare workers. The largest involved approximately 100,000 health workers demanding a pay increase over the next three years. The strikes were not subject to government interference.

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