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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/69

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CARE OF UNEMPLOYED

ahead. In Denmark it devolved upon the above-mentioned Committee on Invalidism of 1903 to consider this question, which naturally had to be solved in conformity with existing laws. The Friendly Societies act was a good model. If a neutral unemployment society could be established, the community might support it as well as the friendly societies; for the sick and the unemployed have an equal claim to help to self-help. And what was quite as important for Denmark, the very man to bring about such a result was in the present committee, namely, the above-mentioned Mr. Th. Sörensen, Inspector for Friendly Societies, who had played so notable a part in carrying through the former act. He could count on the support and confidence of all the people in the community with whose representatives he would be called upon to work.

The Norwegian act, passed in 1906, provided that government grants should be made to voluntary unemployment funds on the sole condition that no support should be given in cases of strikes or lock-outs. At first the project met with little sympathy; even the workmen looked upon it with suspicion, which disappeared or was overcome very slowly, and only after the act had been amended. This suspicion did not exist in Denmark; and after the act recognizing unemployment societies was passed, on April 9, 1907 (amended by a subsequent act of April 8, 1914), it was not long before a considerable number of societies applied for government recognition.

The Danish act asserted that unemployment societies must have but one object, namely, to insure their members against the consequences of unemployment. They must be neutral; they must not be used to aid strikes or to support persons whose want of employment is self-occasioned, or who refuse to accept work assigned to them by the Board of the Society or a municipal employment office. Although the societies are neutral, they are generally managed by persons who are the leaders of the trade unions. The inspection is on the