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Denmark’s Strike Goes Into 4th Day

April 30, 1998

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ In the fourth day of a nationwide strike, most gas stations around the capital Thursday had run out of fuel and food prices were rising.

But Danes seemed unfazed by the fallout from the contract dispute between labor unions and an employers’ confederation.

``We’re pragmatic, cool Scandinavians who don’t get overexcited by this,″ said shop assistant Soeren Houlberg, sitting in a downtown cafe.

Tourists, though, were upset when they went to the famed Tivoli Gardens and found it closed by the strike.

``I’m disappointed,″ said Irene Kindel of Rostock, Germany, after she glanced through the gates of the deserted park. ``They told us at the hotel but we wanted to see it. It’s a pity.″

Pickets stood outside some restaurants and traffic was lighter than usual in the downtown, but otherwise there were few obvious signs of a strike. ``Maybe we haven’t really realized yet that there is strike,″ Houlberg said.

The realization could sink in soon.

The government has refused to intervene in the strike and talks on Thursday between unions and employers produced no visible results.

The strike in the country of 5.2 million started Monday after unions unexpectedly rejected a proposed compromise contract from the national employers’ confederation.

The main issue dividing the sides is workers’ demand for a sixth week of paid vacation; the proposed contract offered one extra day. News media said negotiators have set Sunday as the deadline for reaching a new proposal.

Initially, about 550,000 people were off the job _ either members of the striking unions or sympathizers.

But the action has forced increasing numbers of non-strikers to stay home. Some fear running out of gasoline while driving to work; some working parents must remain at home because many kindergartens have been forced to close.

Supplies of fruit and vegetables in stores were diminishing, and prices were rising.

Denmark’s agricultural exports have come to a standstill, with farmers losing about $32 million a day, the Agricultural Council said. Only livestock was still being sent abroad.

Most airlines have rerouted their flights to other Scandinavian airports and private bus services have stopped running. Public transportation, including railroads, continued to function normally.

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