Danish Slaughterhouse Workers Go on Strike: No to wage cuts!

The slaughterhouse-workers in Denmark are faced with wage-reductions in spite of the big profits of Danish Crown (the company)!

Fight against all the employers’ demands for wage reductions through the extension of the strike!

NNF (food and allied workers’ union) must support the strike and open up the strike funds! The LO (Danish TUC) must call for solidarity action if no concessions are given!


While on the one hand the financial wizards are once again talking about a boom and that the wheels are running faster again, on the other hand they are launching a series of head-on attacks against the workers. All the capitalist experts are talking about the need for increased competition involving wages, a longer working week and more “efficiency” in the workplaces. In common language this means that the wages must be lowered and the workers must work harder, faster and longer.

For a long period of time we have seen a number of incidents where firms put pressure on their employees through mass-sackings, reduction of wages and worsening of the conditions of the workers. Some good examples are the disputes in the recent years at SAS and LEGO.

This offensive of the capitalists will continue as long as we tolerate it, and although now it is the workers in the slaughterhouses who are in difficulty, it is just a matter of time before the crisis will hit all of us. To combat this, the working class must stand united and fight against capitalism and the bosses’ cuts. If the workers at the slaughterhouses are not able to win this struggle alone, the LO must launch a call for sympathy strikes. Such a move could stop the management of Danish Crown in their tracks. The sooner we stop the attacks of the employers, the better.

Tulip in Ringsted

Last week we saw the employers’ latest offensive at Tulip in Ringsted. In April this year, the slaughterhouse workers accepted a 40-hour working week in order to increase productivity. At the end of November, the management declared that the whole factory was to be shut down, and all employees were to be sacked.

At first the workers accepted a deal with the employers that included a 15% wage reduction – although the vote was won by a small margin. Tulip then promised to postpone the planned closure of the factory until March 2006. This deal was made on a local basis at Tulip in Ringsted and therefore the slaughterhouse workers union, the NNF, was not involved in the negotiations.

Understandably, there was some discontent in the NNF about the agreement and the vice-president, Jens Peter Bostrup, explained that the agreement was in contradiction with the general national agreement between the bosses and the union. Tulip in Ringsted and representatives from the NNF and also from the Danish Industry therefore worked out a new local agreement.

However, this “new” agreement is not much better than the original. In reality it means that the highest paid workers at the slaughterhouse must lower their wages, while the lower wages will rise. All in all it still amounts to an overall 14-15% wage cut. The management at the factory are happy with the agreement because they “want to keep workplaces in Denmark” and they say that the factory in Ringsted should be an example to be followed by other factories in a similar situation. But neither at Tulip nor at any other workplace can the workers accept wage cuts. Management proposals are only fit for the rubbish bin. They give the workers the “choice” between wage cuts or job losses.

A general tendency

Tulip in Ringsted is not an isolated case. The Danish Crown group since the beginning of 2004 has closed factories in Brønderslev and Odense and moved production abroad. Further closures are planned for this year, at Viby and Vejle harbour. The Danish Crown group is not the only company moving production to countries where labour costs are much cheaper. It is a general tendency among Danish companies. Under the pretence of economic pressure and weak competitivity of Danish industry, they increase pressure on the workers, by lowering their wages or lengthening the working week. In this way, the workers are forced to pay for the crisis of capitalism.

Tulip, which is part of the Danish Crown group, which describes itself as “the world’s largest exporter of meat”, has a surplus of 1,260.8 million Danish kroners. This fact alone just makes the wage cuts even more scandalous.

NNF must unite the strikes and open up the fighting funds

The vice-president of NNF, Jens Peter Bostrup, called for the workers to resume work on Tuesday, December 14, and for a dialogue with the employers. But Danish Crown have already shown what “dialogue” means to them. Their dialogue is more like a monologue: If you are not ready to work 40 hours a week, we have to sack you and if you are not ready to lower wages, production will be moved to Germany, and in Germany they play the same game. In this way they put pressure on wage levels of all over Europe.

The workers cannot be satisfied with this. The new deal at Tulip in Ringsted is no solution. The only way forward is struggle. History has shown that the workers only win what they conquer through battle and can only protect what they won in the past through struggle.

Instead of calling off the struggle, the NNF must unite the struggle and extend it to all Danish Crown slaughterhouses throughout the country. Only by facing the employers with united struggle, can we avoid defeat. The only reason why the employers can go on the offensive is because we let them! The NNF must back the strike 100% and of course open up the strike funds so that the strike can be continued until the employers retreat from their vicious attack.