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Denmark To Continue Strike Talks

May 4, 1998

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ Danish employers threatened today to lock out some 60,000 non-striking union members to increase pressure on striking workers to end a weeklong protest.

Fuel shortages were severe as Denmark entered the second week of a nationwide general strike, raising fears that food deliveries to stores could soon halt.

Negotiators continued meeting to look for a compromise.

The striking workers walked out a week ago, demanding a sixth week of paid vacation. Countless others among Denmark’s 5.2 million people have stayed home because of fuel shortages.

Bus service in the country’s third-largest city, Odense, stopped Sunday and road traffic in Copenhagen was down to about a third of its usual level. The capital’s cab drivers were nearly out of gas, Danish radio reported.

Most worrisome for many Danes was that the near-empty gas tanks could halt delivery of milk and dairy products. Dairy drivers are not among the striking workers and the uninterrupted supply had made the strike relatively easy for many Danes to bear.

But many already are complaining.

``It’s unfair that all of us have to pay the consequences of group of people who want more days off,″ said Inger W. Jensen, a tailor’s assistant.

Dissatisfaction is likely to mount Tuesday, when the Danish Commerce and Service group said it would lock out 45,000 shop assistants and 15,000 electricians, who are members of unions that are not striking.

The plan apparently is aimed at increasing pressure on the strikers by making life difficult for brethren in other unions.

Danish Commerce and Service is an employers’ organization under the umbrella of the Danish Confederation of Employers, which has been negotiating with the union umbrella group.

``It’s a very serious situation and we’re standing far apart, but it’s not a collapse of the talks,″ said employers’ confederation head Joern Neergaard Larsen.

Hans Jensen, head of the union umbrella group, said that even if an agreement were reached, the strike would likely continue until union members could vote on the proposal.

Many hospitals have scaled back to emergency-only service. Most agricultural exports were at a standstill, and fishermen stayed ashore because fish processing plants were idle.

Copenhagen’s international airport allowed only small planes to land.

Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen has repeatedly refused to intervene, apparently concerned about alienating either labor or employers before a May 28 referendum on the European Union consolidation.

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