The Teacher at the Municipal Primary and Lower Secondary Schools Got a Working-Time Agreement

– Now It Is Our Turn

D 23. september 2020

af Uffe Rostrup, Formand for Frie Skolers Lærerforening

With a majority of two thirds, the teacher voted in favour of the municipal area entering into a new agreement on working time for the municipal primary and lower secondary schools. This means that after seven and a half years with Law 409, the municipal schools will once again be able to work according to collective agreements.

As is evident from the number of votes, far from all teachers are satisfied with the result of the agreement. Thus, it is of the utmost importance for the success of the agreement that both the unions and KL – Local Government Denmark (KL) work actively to bring the agreement to life.

The reason is that the agreement is very much different from the agreement we all lost in 2013. The agreement is based on local cooperation, whereas the agreements we had before Law 409 were based on fixed requirements which management had to comply with. The whole idea behind the new agreement is that the local cooperation must work. Thus, the union representative will be a central figure at the schools.

The agreement does not contain regulations regarding the maximum teaching time. Neither does it state how much preparation time the individual teachers get. Thus, it is not the kind of agreement that we know from before 2013. Instead, it is an agreement that, to a very large extent, respects the right of management to plan the teachers’ working time. In addition to respecting the leaders’ right to lead and coordinate work, the agreement describes management’s responsibility to involve and cooperate with the teachers. Among other things, it is described in the management responsibilities that a statement of the teachers’ working time must be prepared four times per year. The task list must be ready no later than five weeks before the beginning of the norm period, and all teaching tasks must have a time estimate. An estimated time for preparation must be stated for all tasks that are expected to last more than 60 hours. And that is important. For now, a case can be made pertaining to labour legislation if the school management does not involve the teachers and the union representative in the planning process. This is not possible under Law 409.

During the past seven years, many people have asked the union main office about working-time planning at the schools, and we know that too many schools – perhaps up to approx. 40% – have planned the working time in a way which violates Law 409. The way in which working time is set up may be fine, but it is only possible if there is a local agreement. At some schools, the school management does not want this, and as the teachers fear that they will be forced to be working at the school 100% of the time if they tell, they simply live with the way in which management works.

Consequently, we also need a new working-time agreement at the independent schools. We cannot live with an agreement in which management makes up the working-time rules themselves – which is not an agreement at all.

So now we will start talking about working time at the independent schools. However, we do not want something completely different from the agreement at the municipal primary and lower secondary schools. It has been very difficult to get to where the parties in the municipal area are. We should now do the same with the state. We will base our agreement on the municipal agreement. It must be adjusted for 24-hour shifts, and the cooperation between the municipal authorities and the teachers that has been built into the agreement must be replaced by something with the same effect in the state agreement. We cannot live with something similar to the municipal agreement, only 10% worse, like the ones we have had before.

If we manage to transfer the agreement to the independent schools, we will get rid of Law 409 and once again get regulations for how to run independent schools. The agreement includes most of the challenges we have met with Law 409.