Denmark demonstrates building blocks for flexicurity

Santa’s elves probably don’t think about job security, but a lot of workers who are facing layoffs may want to know why employees at Danish toymaker Lego don’t worry too much if their jobs are outsourced. It has to do with what the International Labour Office and others call “flexicurity”. ILO TV reports.

Date issued: 15 December 2005 | Size/duration: 00:02:14 (3.73 MB)

At toy-making giant Lego, Christmas is the busiest time...

But production worker Charlotte is facing an uncertain New Year.

As one of the world’s most successful toymakers, even Lego is not immune to the upheavals of globalization. The last few years have seen layoffs for hundreds of their workers and there will be more in 2006 as Lego out-sources its distribution to the Czech Republic.

But Charlotte is not too worried.

Charlotte: Lego worker

I’m not particularly concerned if I should lose my job....They are good at taking care of you at Lego if you are fired...They don’t just leave you on your own...

That’s because Lego is based in Denmark, where a flexible labour market, broad social security and retraining form the building blocks of what’s called “flexicurity”.

Claus Hjort Frederiksen: Danish Employment Minister

You can compare it to three sided triangle, where one is the flexible labour market – we say it’s easy to hire and fire people...

....for Charlotte, it means she can put her daughter in a state-run nursery, part of a strong social security system while she works or gets retrained.

Hans Jensen: Federation of Danish Trade Unions

There is a balance here, but if that balance should shift, then the entire Danish system collapses. So as a union we are highly conscious that there is a connection, that flexibility leads to security which the state supplies.

Lego, the trade unions and the local employment office put their heads together and came up with an agreement to retrain workers for jobs in the service sector, for example working at the nearby theme park.

Conny Kalcher,: Vice President, Communications, LEGO

If the case is that we have to let people go, that we help them have the best chance they can have to get a better job.

Jørn Neergaard Larsen: Confederation of Danish Employers

A flexible labour market gives the companies the possibility to increase, to restructure, to decrease, depending on the market relations.

In Denmark, there’s a consensus that flexicurity can work for everyone. It’s just a matter of having all the building blocks in place.