Sunday, September 19, 2010

Minimum wage 18.00 vs 8.00

I follow Kelli Nørgaard's blog called Mads and Kelli. One of the people who posted a comment recently to her blog made the statement that "Americans work for practically nothing". Kelli is taking a class of 17-18 year olds to Seattle, WA on October 1 from Herning DK and she was eliciting advise from people on what to tell the students to expect.

The comment, which was in reference to why we need to tip people in the USA, made me curious. (There is 0-little tipping in Denmark.) I know that the higher wage earners in DK, like doctors, earn about 4 times that of a waiter or waitress. Most jobs are a "living wage". So I checked out some websites. The minimum wage in Denmark is about 103.15 kroner per hour. That is 18.00 dollars per hour in American currency. Minimum wage is 8.00 per hour in California and I think the national mimimum is still 7.25 per hour. Remember, these are American currency comparisons.

Yup. There is a sizable difference in how labor is valued in DK and America. On the other hand, when you work in DK you work all day, not sitting around gabbing.

I am seeing roots of poverty here. The jobs and the living wage must exist first. Only then will I discuss anything about welfare with anyone. The hateful political sound bites I am hearing on the US media in this election trouble me. Poverty is man-made and man-cured. My politics: Everyone gets a piece of the pie. Childcare funding is far less expensive than prisons.


Kelli Nørgaard said...

Every time I gave the kids another "Things about the USA" lesson, their mouths fell open and they were in shock!
One asked me today, "How can we both be from the west and be SOOO Different?!"
good question, I thought!

Nina Ø said...

Kelli, it just occured to me that you will be arriving in the storm of the election blitz in the USA. As a Social Work Supervisor in Welfare Reform in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am seeing serious misinformation "media bites" that a person who does not do research is going to think are true. Perhaps your students should know that those sound bites need to be looked at with a microscope. I am going to post tomorrow on my blog an article from a welfare advocate lawyer in Sacramento who knows the facts specifically. He has even taught me stuff because he collects the big picture data.

Anonymous said...

"When you work in DK you work for all day?"

Sorry, I don't agree with you. Far from it. As far as I know from my working experiences in Denmark in the past few weeks, Danes are the laziest people I know. They come to work at 9am and leave at 5am, not a second after - and they do sit and gab around a lot.

I have been working in many different sectors, public: kommune, and private companies - they all have the same work ethics. As a matter of fact I was pleasantly surprised that my new work colleagues from OTHER Scandinavian countries have MUCH MUCH BETTER work ethics than the Danes.

Archaeogoddess said...

I'm not going to defend the labor laws in the US, oh heck no, but I do take a bit of an exception to your statement "when you work in DK you work all day, not sitting around gabbing" because the American work ethic is kinda famous, for good reason. Maybe your work colleagues are lazy, but that is not the norm in the US. I'd like to think that Danes work hard, but in my experience they don't. Short days (I'm surprised by Anonymous's statement, most of the work schedules I've been exposed to are 9 am - 3 pm!), long breaks, vacation every time you turned around, I'm wondering what they possibly due to deserve $18 an hour.

On a slightly related note, one of the Burmese in my class is currently doing praktik as part of his integration contract. He's getting paid 13.5 DKK an hour. He makes about 600 kroner a month because he only gets a few hours per week. The kommune pays part of his rent, but still - 13.5!! I guess immigrants are not subject to the same laws as Danes.

HLI said...

I've worked 20 years in the States and several years in Denmark and I've got to say - the work ethic in Denmark DOES NOT EXIST. In the course of one day, half is actually filled with semi-work (it usually has to be redone several times) and the other half is spent gossiping, smoking, and Fridays? Forget it - day ends at lunch and the rest of the day is spent getting drunk. And this behavior is not limited to private companies - I've also seen it in the public sector as well.

Mary P said...

Are you kidding??

Have you worked in Denmark?

Everything closes in summertime while people use their 5 - 6 weeks of annual vacation. If you call any public office, you are usually told you need to wait for the information you're looking for for 2 or 3 WEEKS, until the person who contains the information in their head returns. Nothing is open on any of the numerous holidays. Danes also recieve more illness/personal days than I ever had in the US.

When they do work, it's usually from 8 - 3 or 4pm, then a quick trip home to pick up kids. In the US, I worked from 8 - 5, sat in traffic, ate take out, and worked again after my kid's bedtime, usually until 10pm or later. I was regularly expected to put in more than 40 hours a week with no overtime, and fell behind if I didn't. I worked harder in the US than I ever will in Denmark, and I have a full time job and successfully run my own business in Denmark.

There's no "need it right now" mentality in Denmark. Unions and a general nurturing sociological mindset are put in place to avoid putting unnecessary strain on people. When someone gives you an assignment, you can sit with it for days or weeks, in between which time you can still comfortably update Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, and enjoy a cup of coffee or three. You don't worry about how you're going to pay your rent, or if you can afford your copayment at the doctor's office, or if you have the ability to say "no" to your boss, or whether or not you have enough downtime.

People don't work late in Denmark. It just isn't done. And they certainly don't work quickly. Although there are always exceptions to the rule, in Denmark, the majority work at a comfortable pace, in a nurtured environment, ESPECIALLY in comparison to the US.

Having worked extensively in both countries, I think your statement could use some careful re-evaluation.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to disagree, but the argument that Danes are hard working in comparison to Americans is laughable. My God, try getting a Dane to do anything that asks for initiative or effort and you'll be met with a blank, Danbotic stare.

By the way, I'm neither Danish or American. I simply am not prepared to see someone try to bend reality to fit in with some kind of wishful thinking.

Nina Ø said...

I am sorry that people felt that one small OFF TOPIC comment I made gave them permission to bash the work ethic in all of Denmark. I can personally comment on my own family and I have only envy for the number of holidays, the number of work hours per week. No one should work without holidays or sick leave. No one. If you want to say something constructive please do so. If you want to bash Denmark, this is the wrong place to do it. I will no longer publish it. Many people in my Danish family are self-employed and they work hard and are creative. That is my source of information. At my workplace in America, some people who confuse work with socializing were the source of my minor offhand comment. On the other hand I do not agree with competitiveness at work only cooperation. I especially like the book "Happiness is 9-5" or as Denmark would say "Happiness is 9-3" ;-) That is ok also.

Did you notice that all those negative comments were about "they" and "them". I am not publishing "they and them" comments anymore.