Since the signing of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that formed the European Union, Danish employers used the treaty’s requirements as a justification to cut social services and reduce wages. Over the several years prior to 1998, the Danes’ unemployment had surged and real wages had dropped. Nevertheless, Denmark’s economy had experienced a boom and employers’ profits had more than doubled over the preceding five years.
Ranked as the world’s fourth best brewer, Carlsberg Brewery held a 163-year-old tradition that its workers could enjoy free beer from refrigerators located around work sites throughout the day. Typical workers consumed three bottles of beer a day, excluding those consumed during lunch hours. The only restriction was “that you could not be drunk at work. It was up to each and every one to be responsible.”
When King Christian X of Denmark dismissed Prime Minister Zahle and his Radical Party Cabinet in late March 1920, the Socialists and Radicals, who held a political majority at the time, were furious. Although the King still had the right to do this under the Danish constitution, Denmark freely elected parliament members to the Folketing chamber of the Rigsdag (Parliament), who in turn determined the cabinet and no king had interfered with this process since the constitution was created in 1848.