The history of DA goes back more than 120 years. Here is a selection of main dates and events.
Following a strike on 29 February 1896 at the brickworks Frederikholms Teglværker, the company’s Director, Vilhelm Køhler, and the chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Confederation, Niels Andersen, took the initiative to form the “Employers’ Confederation of 1896”. This was publicised with a notification to Ritzau on 19 May 1896. The objective, among other things, was to take “joint action in the event of labour conflicts arising and (..) to achieve more peaceful and stable conditions in the workplaces”.
The September Compromise of 5 September 1899 is signed by employers and employees following a strike and subsequent lockout in the summer of 1899. The compromise forms the basis for the labour market we know today with voluntary agreements between employers and employees – better known as “The Danish Model”. The “Employers’ Confederation of 1896” changes its name to the “Confederation of Employers and Masters”.
On 5 October 1907, DA’s central board agreed to establish wages statistics. This is done in order to establish reliable statistics that can create transparency in the labour market and reduce the scope of conflicts based on misunderstandings. This task is taken care of by the newly established “Department for the Gathering and Processing of Wage Statistic Material”.
In 1909, the central board decides to build its own building on the corner of Vester Voldgade and Ny Kongensgade in Copenhagen. During the construction work, the cornerstone is furnished with a silver plate bearing the words: “May the Work done in this Building be to the Benefit of both Employers and Employees and with a healthy Development and Regulation of Working Conditions and, through this, be to the Benefit of All of Society”. The building was inaugurated in 1911 and remains the headquarters of DA to this day.
On 1 January 1913, DA sets up a strike insurance fund, known today as the reserve fund. The purpose of the reserve fund is to ensure that the employers are financially equipped to withstand pressure from employees and their organisations. The fund helps ensure that employers are resilient in the face of employee demands and acts as a financial safety net for the companies.
The confederation changes its name again, to the Confederation of Danish Employers.
Furnished with statistics on workers' wages, during collective agreement negotiations in 1921/22, DA initiates a lockout in order to obtain that wages of Danish workers are to be reduced to the same level as they were before the First World War. DA succeeds, but the lockout costs DA’s reserve fund dearly.
Between 1940-1945, during the Second World War, it is forbidden to strike under pressure from the Germans. The Danish Labour and Mediation Board rules on cases relating to disputes in the labour market. However, on 30 June 1944, a five-day general strike breaks out in Copenhagen, the “Peoples’ Strike”, protesting against the German curfews.
For DA’s 50th anniversary on 19 May 1946, the “Confederation of Danish Employers Anniversary Fund” is set up. The objective of the fund is to provide financial support to young employers, salaried employees or workers. The anniversary fund is still active to this day and now supports the Danish participants in World Skills, which is the world championships for students in vocational education and young tradespersons.
In 1955, DA purchases Egelund Castle from Heir Apparent Prince Knud. Egelund Castle becomes the first of several training course and conference centres for which DA is responsible for operating. DA still owns and operates Egelund Castle, which today functions as a conference centre for the business community.
On 18 November 1960, DA and LO, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, agree on the new Principal Agreement. The Principal Agreement is an update of the September Compromise from 1899. Among other things, the Agreement sets out guidelines for organisational law, the notification of conflicts and the Danish Dismissals Tribunal Board (Afskedigelsesnævnet). It also contains provisions relating to trade union representatives and establishes the fundamental principle for the employer’s managerial rights.
The DA/LO Development Fund is set up during the collective agreement negotiations in 1973 between the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) and the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO). The fund’s resources are used for streamlining and further development of the cooperation and conflict resolution system and for the training of trade union and safety representatives operating under DA/LO.
DA, LO and the government enter into a tripartite agreement to strengthen the Danish economy. The background to this is high unemployment levels and a large current account deficit. The parties agree to allow the existing agreements to continue, and the parties work for a relaxation of employer costs, discussions on labour market pension schemes and a limitation to wage increases.
DA and LO adopt a new Principal Agreement on 1 October 1992. The most striking change is a tightening up of the ability of the Danish Dismissals Tribunal Board to issue sanctions in cases of unfair dismissals in DA’s member companies.
In the spring of 1998, the employee side rejects DA and LO’s proposed agreement because the result of negotiations does not meet the demand for more free time and a 6th week of holidays. The major conflict culminates in a government intervention and is the most recent conflict relating to agreements in relation to DA/LO.
DA’s wages statistics celebrate their 100-year anniversary. Over the last 100 years, DA has succeeded in creating a statistical tool that is recognised by both employees and employers and which has helped create transparency in relation to employees’ qualifications and the market price for work output.
In the spring of 2016, the government and the parties to the labour market enter into a tripartite agreement on integration which, among other things, results in the establishment of Integration Training (IGU). The background to this is the war in Syria and the significant increase in the number of refugees. Later in the year, an agreement is reached on the creation of more apprenticeships with, for example, the renewal of the Danish Employers’ Work Placement Reimbursement System (AUB). This is done to reinforce the need for qualified labour.
In October 2017, the government and the participants in the labour market conclude the Tripartite Agreement on enhanced and more flexible adult and on-the-job training. In total, the agreement encompasses initiatives amounting to just under DKK 2.5 billion for the period 2018-2021 with a view to strengthening lifelong learning.
The collective agreements in the private sector are to be renewed by 1. April 2020.
DA celebrates our 125th anniversary. Over time, DA has negotiated collective agreements for half of the employees in the private sector. In total, DA has negotiated agreements 36 times. This has contributed to Denmark having one of the world's most stable and well-functioning labor markets.