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Danish Regions to lose 800 hospital jobs

23. juni 2015 13:49

As a result of the cuts agreed by a broad majority in the regional council yesterday, almost 800 hospital jobs are to be axed in Central Denmark Region over the next few years.

The cuts are intended to save DKK 700 million and according to regional chairman, Bent Hansen (SocDem), it will mean redundancies.

Only Red-Greens voted against
Some of the cuts are due to the fact that treatments have become more expensive, medicine prices have risen and money must be found for new hospitals in Herning and Skejby.

The savings were approved by 39 to 40 votes. Only the Red-Green Alliance's two members voted against the motion.

"This will place more pressure on personnel and we can't accept that. The more staff are stressed, the greater likelihood there is of there being errors in treatment," said Henrik Qvist, a member of the regional council for the Red-Green Alliance.


Løkke closer to forming government

23. juni 2015 13:47

Yesterday, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, leader of the Liberal Party received a new opportunity to attempt to form a government.

In the afternoon, the blue bloc parties were once more called to negotiations with Løkke Rasmussen in the attempt to find common ground for the composition of a new government.

"I think we have had some constructive discussions today. It is clear that all are in agreement. This is why I have said on a number of occasions that irrespective of how it may look from a parliamentary, political and seat point of view, we need a government that shows a willingness to compromise," Løkke Rasmussen said at the end of Monday's negotiations.

90 % is rather a lot
A statement earlier in the day from Kristian Thulesen Dahl, chairman of the Danish People's Party, was interpreted as an insult to participation in a government. "We will be part of a government if the conditions are right," he said and went on: "If we can get 90% through it may be that it would be wise to be a part."

To this, Løkke Rasmussen replied:

"Personally, I'd be overjoyed if I was able to get 90% of my policies through. But I wouldn't dare set my targets that high. It is obvious that there is no party with 90 seats in Christiansborg, so everyone must compromise," he said.

However, he insists that negotiations with the DPP have been constructive and that they will continue today.

It will succeed eventually
The two parties are in particular disagreement on the public sector. The Liberals would like to see cutbacks in expenditure so that development in the public sector follows price development, whereas, during their election campaign, the DPP proposed a plan for 0.8% annual growth in the public sector.

Last Thursday, the Danish People's Party emerged out of the general election as the largest party in the blue bloc with 37 seats in parliament, while the Liberals lost 13 seats, including that of Løkke Rasmussen, who has also been appointed as royal adjudicator.

"I am convinced that we will succeed eventually," said Løkke.


Teachers may decide own work hours

23. juni 2015 13:45

Two years ago, the Danish Union of Teachers and the Danish Regions were locked in a dispute on teachers' working hours that ended in a lock-out and closed schools.

Now, a questionnaire among teachers conducted by Danish Daily, Jyllands-Posten, has revealed that 50 local authorities have entered into a local working hours agreement or signed a so-called 'understanding document' with their local union branch for the coming school year.

Many of the agreements circumvent the bill on teachers' working hours, which was passed after the conflict.

Not guaranteed preparation time
The abolition of the teachers' working time agreement means, among other things, that teachers must be present in school during all their working hours, that they are no longer guaranteed preparation time, and that there is no longer a limit on the number of hours they may be asked to teach during a week.

Many local authorities and teachers made local agreements to ignore the part of the agreement on presence in school, the introduction of a period of time for preparation that the teachers can decide how to use and a limit for teaching hours - which is higher than before the conflict.

We're working as normal
"We're working pretty much as normal and we are pleased to have found a way out of this with our local politicians," said Jens Lunden, chairman of the Herlev branch of the teachers' union to Jyllands-Posten. Many local mayors are also happy with the agreement.

"We respect the fact that teachers are grown-ups who can decide how to prioritise their working lives," said Ib Terp (SocDem), mayor of Brøndby, to the newspaper.

Anders Bondo Christensen, chairman of the Danish Union of Teachers expects more local agreements in the coming year.

Michael Ziegler (Cons), chairman for the arbitration committee of the Danish Regions, said that he was not able to interfere with local agreements between authorities and their teachers.


Region may not boycott Ryanair

23. juni 2015 13:43

Employees of Southern Denmark Region may continue to fly with Ryanair - at least for a while longer.

The SPP and the Red-Green Alliance wanted them only to fly with companies that had an agreement with National Procurement Ltd - Denmark - the state procurement agency.

However, at a regional meeting yesterday, a majority of Liberal and Social Democrats voted that civil servants must first investigate the practical and economic consequences of a ban on flying with specific air carriers.

"We would like the case to be investigated by civil servants in a committee. The Social Democrats would like to see this organised to suit Danish conditions, but we would like to consider the implications more before taking a decision in the regional council," said Social Democrat, Poul Erik Svendsen to DR Fyn.

Boycott may be illegal
Earlier this month, a number of Social Democrats wanted to boycott a number of companies, including Ryanair, for poor working conditions for their employees. However, according to the regions' own civil servants, this may be illegal.

"It is the administration's opinion that boycotting Ryanair may be against the equal opportunities principle. We therefore believe that a decision to do this would be illegal," wrote Southern Denmark Region, in a response to Karsten Hønge (SPP) at the beginning of June.

Ryanair, which had already complained to the European Commission because the City of Copenhagen had decided to boycott the budget airline, was of the same opinion.

"The mayor of Copenhagen and the other municipal authorities are breaking EU law by preventing employees from flying with Ryanair and there is no substance to their case," wrote Ryanair in a mail to DR Fyn on 5 June.

Hasty decision
Vibeke Syppli Enrum, regional council member for the Red-Green Alliance, would still like to exclude the Irish budget airline.

"It was too hasty a decision. Many local authorities have decided not to fly with Ryanair and only to use airlines recommended by the government agreement," she said to DR Fyn.

The joint Red-Green/SPP proposal was rejected in February on the grounds that a ban was illegal.

It is expected that civil servants will be able to consider the case, so that the regional council can decide on the question after the summer break.

A similar suggestion for a boycott from the Central Jutland Region was thrown out by the regional council in April.


Rasmussen gives up on majority government

22. juni 2015 13:36

Liberal chairman Lars Løkke Rasmussen has abandoned hope of forming a government comprising the four blue block parties.

"It will not be possible to establish a majority government," announced Rasmussen.

The Liberal chairman, who is appointed "Royal examiner" and tasked with forming a new government through negotiations known as the Queen's Round of consultations, will notify the Queen tomorrow, after which a new round of negotiations is expected to commence.

Difficult to establish flexible majority government
Forming a majority government with the four blue block parties - the Liberals, the Danish People's Party, Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives - was considered a nearly impossible task from the outset.

Rasmussen is seeking what he calls a "manoeuvrable" government, which he says would not have been possible with a majority constellation.

"A majority government comprising the four parties with exactly 90 seats would be a government - when it reached agreement internally - that would have very limited parliamentary flexibility," said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen stressed that he still wants a "broad" cooperation in the parliament.

New round of consultations on the way
In the first Queen's Round of consultations, Rasmussen was given a mandate to form a majority government, but after the weekend's negotiations, this has proven impossible.

A new round of consultations will now follow, and Rasmussen is likely to be appointed as the "Royal examiner" once more, with continued responsibility for leading negotiations on the new government.


Denmark remains second-most peaceful country

22. juni 2015 13:34

According to the annual report from the Institute for Economics and Peace, Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world to live in, followed by Denmark, while Syria is the least peaceful.

Denmark scored slightly lower in the ranking this year, due to the attack on Krudttønden Cultural Centre and the Jewish Synagogue in Copenhagen in February, as well as the military participation in international actions.
Yet Denmark still holds on to its second-place rank.

Charlie Hebdo affects France
Similarly, France fell in the rankings due to the attack on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in January.

The institute ranks 162 countries every year in terms of safety, local and international conflicts, and military engagement.

81 countries have become more peaceful
The conclusion is that 81 countries have become more peaceful since last year, while 78 countries have moved in the opposite direction.

In total, 180,000 people died last year in the world's conflicts, while the figure in 2010 was 49,000.

Four countries make biggest moves
Fifteen of the 20 most peaceful countries are located in Europe, while the Middle East and North Africa are the most unstable regions.

Last year, the world's conflicts cost nearly DKK 95 trillion, or 13% of the world's total gross domestic product, according to the annual report.


Independent schools on the rise

22. juni 2015 13:31

Twenty-three new independent schools are expected to open this year, 11 of which are replacing a closed municipal school.

In Hjørring Municipality, three new schools will open after the summer holiday. These schools will replace three of the four municipal primary and lower secondary schools in Hjørring that will close this summer.

This makes the North Jutland municipality the clearest example of the recent boom in new independent schools, according to a report in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.

Replacing closed municipal schools
Thirty independent school initiatives have paid the second instalment of the deposit required to open an independent school.

Of these, 23 school initiatives have reported an address to the ministry, which is considered a sign that the school will actually open this year.

This represents the highest total in many years.
Last year, 13 schools that are members of the association of Danish free schools, Dansk Friskoleforening, opened. When the wave of closed municipal primary and lower secondary schools peaked in 2012, 16 new schools opened.

Eleven of the 23 new schools to open this year will be replacing a closed municipal primary and lower secondary school.

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