The trade unions, which traditionally are close to Frederiksen’s Social Democrats, have launched an online petition with more than 405,000 signatures to “send a clear signal to the government: Abandon the plans to scrap Store Bededag.”
Denmark’s 10 Lutheran bishops have spoken of a “breach of trust,” saying they weren’t even consulted ahead of the move.
In Denmark where political consensus is the norm, the opposition — to the right and the left of the centrist coalition — united in a rare move to criticize the government.
“The government is shutting the rest of us out,” said Pia Olsen Dyhr, leader of the left-leaning Social People’s Party that used to be an ally of Frederiksen’s Social Democrats.
Søren Pape Poulsen, head of the center-right Conservatives, said "it is important to me to protect our culture, history and the values and deep roots our society stands on,” and called the abolition “a mistake.”
Some employers who approve of the government's plan are worried that it will be raised in talks about wages and working conditions between themselves and trade unions. In Denmark, the government traditionally stays away from these matters.
“It is not right for the government to abolish public holidays or days off over the heads of all of us,” the unions said. They have floated the idea of a referendum on the issue.
The government controls 89 seats in the 179-seat parliament and is supported by the four lawmakers representing the semi-independent Danish territories of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.
The first reading of a law to make the change is set for Feb. 2. A date for the third and final reading has not been announced yet. If passed, Store Bededag will no longer be a public holiday from 2024.