Creating a blueprint for improving pay and labour conditions for foreign workers
In Denmark, some 1,300 workers on the Copenhagen Cityringen Metro construction will benefit from a new landmark agreement that combines respect for Danish laws and traditions with better wages and working conditions for foreign workers
The agreement took effect from January 2016, and is designed to help Denmark meet the needs of an international workforce on large scale building projects. It could serve as a model for future construction initiatives in the region.
The main contractor, Copenhagen Metro Team (CMT), led by Salini Impregilo, and the trade union BJMF/3F, forged the unprecedented agreement in late 2015. Workers from 24 countries are involved in the project, employed by some 250 companies. When completed in 2019, the Metro Cityringen will comprise 17 new stations and 34 km of tunnel, substantially improving Copenhagen’s urban transport system.
With both Danish and international companies participating in the project, people have had to adapt and understand foreign cultures, in order to identify suitable solutions. This has covered everything from nutrition, health and communication issues, to more work-specific questions on wages, tax, work time regulations etc.
Additionally, we are participating in a pilot scheme, along with three subcontractors, whereby employees covered by the overall agreement can work 37 hours per week. They can opt to work eight hours overtime, which would total 45 working hours across a six-day week. Workers have also received an extra Metro supplement of DKK 10 per hour as well as increased hourly supplements for evening and night shifts of DKK 25 and 70 respectively.
Workers can work flexibly on three different shifts, day, evening and night, as long as there is an approved and signed plan. The agreement contains clear rules about notice periods and switching between shifts, and trade union representatives are involved in workload planning. They approve any updates to working schedules when workers are moving to another shift, for example.
We took a pragmatic, open-minded approach to the negotiations, striving for improved understanding and dialogue throughout. With the agreement now in place, we hope that it will set an example of positive engagement with local stakeholders and help the construction industry to make progress on respecting local culture and social needs.