MAJOR STRIKE IN DENMARK
Drama in Denmark!!! Oh sure, you say? That comfortable clean &
cozy little bastion of safety and security? Aw, come on!
But Really, REALLY--we've got a national general strike going on
in the peaceful easy-going laid-back little land of Dk, the labor
unions have shut down the country until their demands are met,
and this means that most transport is affected one way or another:
truck traffic is blockaded, the airports are closed, busses not
running, sanitation services out of action, and there is no more
fuel being delivered to the gas stations, which have begun to run
There are quite a few ramifications to having transport shut down:
food cannot get to supermarkets, the post office has run out of
gas, large institutions are shutting down because of lack of
maintenance, people can't get to work, and businesses with
spoilable goods (like food & flowers) are going to lose their
The strike started last Monday, and last weekend there was a run
on the supermarkets for all the fresh food that was going to be
unavailable: milk, meat, bread, etc. Hoarding Fever swept across
the land, and when Marianne and I went shopping Saturday there
were already only empty shelves to chose from.
It was hysteria--Danes are really hooked on a very high living
standard, threaten that and they react like it's World War III.
There's been an outcry against the hoarding, because there's
enough food to go around for weeks...unless everyone starts
hoarding. Those who could were spending thousands of kroner and
buying 20-30 liters of milk, hundreds of kilos of meat, and those
who didn't have that kind of ready cash on hand were not able to
buy more than normal, and when they get their next check, maybe
next week, there will be no food left to buy. Pretty antisocial
behavior for one of the world's most successful Socialist
countries. Every family for themself!
But nobody's really complaining about it all, they're all sort
of enjoying this drama break in their everyday ho-hum lives, "Oh
wow, what's going to happen next?" Uncharted waters, adventure,
hone those mighty hunter hoarding skills, outsmart the rest of
the herd in the hunt for the next (maybe last) tank of gas.
And let me mention what the Danish workers are craving, for which
this great strike is being held: they want another week of
vacation, which is to say, 6 weeks instead of a measely 5. That
must seem pretty extravagant to Americans.
There's already no more gasoline to be found, and the city
traffic has thinned out quite nicely--except for bicycles, that
traffic is growing. My van runs on diesel, which we can probably
still get for a couple of days more...when that's gone, well I
guess I'll get a few days off.
I still have lots of work, even though the airport is closed,
because we keep getting calls from companies who need special
errands run here and now due to the strike. Freja is not
striking, but we're slowed down by blockades, and when the fuel
is gone we'll grind to a halt along with everyone else. I don't
have the van at home now since several colleagues are using it
to commute with now that gasoline cars are unusable.
But things aren't really so bad--yet--the trains are running, as
well as the ferries to and from Sweden, some busses anyway, and
food is showing up in the stores again (I even found some ground
beef today!). And the weather suddenly got good: bicycling is a
t-shirt pleasure instead a rainstorm torture session.
Tomorrow is the 1st of May, the big Workers's Day in Europe (like
Labor Day), when they usually have big outdoor festivals. Here
in København there's always a big May Day happening in
Fælledparken (Copenhagen's "Central Park"), with entertainment,
music, socialistic speeches, hot dogs and beer, etc.
But this time there's no transportation for the tents, the bands,
the hot dogs, or--worst of all!--the beer. We'll see what
happens. It's usually kind of fun though, sort of like a rock
festival, so I'll go if I get off work early enough (pretty
As for the impact of all this on family & friends: Marianne has
been away from it all, she's been on "Koloni" with her
kindergarten kids, up north in a beach house for 4 days, but she
comes back to the big city today. Mads lives in a world of
teenage parties and computer games, he won't notice what's going
on until we can't buy any food, and then he might focus in. My
Malaysian friend, William, just flew back from visiting his
family on Borneo, not knowing of the strike, and his jumbo jet
had to land in Amsterdam instead of København and 400 passengers
were shuttled to Kbh (think what that must cost SAS).
Anyway, that's what's going on in Wonderful Copenhagen (driving
tourists are advised to tank up in Germany BEFORE they come into
Denmark, hungry tourists should bring a lunch, those coming for
Tivoli should maybe do Euro Disney instead), the question being:
for how long will it go on? Wow, what Drama!
Ok, the Strike is over. It only lasted 10 days, during which all
the gas stations ran out of gas, so traffic thinned out quite
nicely, except for the kilometer-long lines of cars at the few
independant stations which had a few drops of gas left. Many
items, like bread, yeast, milk, disappeared from the stores and
still aren't quite back to normal supplies.
I worked all through it...we weren't striking, although we were
affected by the airport being closed and the lack of fuel. I
was down to my last 25-liter jug of diesel, hoping to get a
couple of days off when I couldn't drive any more.
But it never really got down to the nitty-gritty. It was
inconvenient, exciting at first, but mostly just unhandy after
a bit. This is Denmark, nobody is really going to suffer here.
The government stepped in and cancelled the strike when the
hospitals & schools began to shut down. They got the workers an
extra conditional 3 days, a compromise that pissed off the
unions and relieved the rest of us.
This document is based upon letters I sent to friends while the
strike was going on. American friends, from "the land of the
free", were surprised that anyone could hope for more than 2
weeks of vacation. Among those friends are Ron & Kippy, who
live in Chiapas, Mexico--where the Zapatistas are currently in
revolution against the Mexican government. Kippy sent me an
e-mail which put the Dramatic Danish Strike into a world
So: ought the Danes be ashamed of their demand for such a
luxurious commodity as More Freedom? Or ridiculed for striking
and throwing a whole country into chaos for so unserious a
cause when there are people fighting and dying for their very
survival? Are Danes so spoiled and pampered here that they
can't appreciate how good they have it?
Naw, the Danes are all right. The shame is that of the
Mexican government--they don't have to do what they're doing.
It's a rich country, the problem being that all the profit is
skimmed off the top for those few Spanish families who run the
show and will never share the wealth. Denmark actually puts
into perspective a social standard that CAN be achieved, and
without exploiting their own people (or anyone else) to do it.
The whole world COULD be sharing such standards instead of those
inflicted upon Mexicans/Africans/Armenians/Indonesians/etc.
The Danes weren't given what they have: they had to get it by
organizing the workers, by striking, by enduring enemy
occupation in WWII, by forming a fair and socially responsible
government. A process that Mexico, and places like it, need to
go through yet. Buena suerte.
"Finally managed to steal a moment in cyberspace to let you know
that I have "survived" your comic book, (AQ) and here I am,
pondering THE COSMIC JOKE as 46,000 HECTARES of Chiapas burn
(not to mention the rest of Mexico) in its worst drought, in the
middle of a mean war that has the very poorest and noblest
pitted against the very richest and cruelest. I wish it were a
comic book, but people are dying, as they struggle for their
basic human rights. It is mean and hard and sad. In the midst
of this, we are here, carrying on.
We are making music for children's feet: "Para Estos Pies Que
Aún Caminarán Mucho". Food for refugees, clothes, livelihood
projects. There are 11,000 homeless in our neighborhood.
Armageddonquest is in my heart: never give up!!! This is ALL,
after all, temoporary. The rains (absent now since December)
So, we can't travel the roads, or they'll jail us. We can't
speak, or they'll deport us. We can't act, outright. All we can
do is make music, which we do. And plant seeds also.
Today we travel north to give a workshop (Ron) on planting seeds,
restoring fertility, preventing erosion, and the like. I go
along to take pictures, make drawings, make friends. We are
practicing Buddhadharma, applied, anthropology, applied, and
feeding people in a big way. We are happy, even in the face of,
in spite of, the Mexicans destroying Mexico.
How are the Danes doing with their national strike for their
12th week of paid vacations? Can you see the sky there? Is it