World Trade

Thousands of Danes are upset that a public holiday has been cancelled.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people gathered in Copenhagen to protest a bill put forward by the government to get rid of a public holiday in order to pay for more money for the military.

The biggest labour unions in the country set up the protest because they don’t want the Great Prayer Day, a Christian holiday that has been celebrated on the fourth Friday after Easter since 1686, taken away.

The unions that organised the protest said that at least 50,000 people took part, which would make it Denmark’s biggest rally in more than a decade. The local police don’t give crowd counts like this.

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The idea to get rid of holidays came up in December as a way to raise taxes to pay for more defence spending after the war in Ukraine. It is part of the new government’s plan to make big changes to the country’s welfare system.

The government wants to meet the NATO goal of spending 2% of GDP on defence three years earlier, in 2030, instead of 2025. It says that most of the extra 4.5 billion Danish crowns ($654 million) needed to reach the goal could be paid for by the extra tax money it expects to get from getting rid of the holiday.

But unions, lawmakers in the opposition, and economists have questioned what the plan would do. Some economists have said that it is unlikely to have long-term effects because workers would find other ways to change their work hours.

On the Danish job market, pay and hours are mostly set by agreements between well-organized groups of workers and employers. The government doesn’t get involved.

But the government, which only has a small majority in parliament, says it plans to get the bill passed no matter what.

“Usually, these things are talked about with the people who do the work, but this model is about to change.” “We are protesting to get them to pay attention,” said Stig De Blanck, a 63-year-old plumber who was protesting in front of parliament.

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OECD data shows that Danes work less than most people in Europe.

(An extra “a” has been taken out of the first paragraph of this story.)

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