Per Tønnesen, representing HK Handel of Denmark, has been elected President of UNI Europa Commerce.
Per Tønnesen started his political carrier in the student move fighting for better student rights. During his student work, he was recruited by the HK Youth department to become a volunteer in the HK Youth work. Per is originally educated as a forwarding agent responsible for lorry transport in Europe. He was recruited as a full-time union official in the HK Metropolitan office to build up a stronger HK youth movement. After a couple of years as a volunteer in the youth work, Per was offered a position as a negotiating officer. After 18 months in the Metropolitan negotiating unit, He was elected as one of the youngest ever in HK as a full-time union president in a Copenhagen local.
Under Per’s leadership the locals in the Copenhagen area amalgamated to one local covering all the Commerce workers in Metropolitan area and the Island of Bornholm. Per has been in charge of the Danish Commerce Workers Union – HK Handel – for 8 years – and he has been leading the unions transformation from a servicing union to an organizing union replacing ordinary union officials with organizers – at the moment HK Handel has 8 full-time and more than 25 part-time organizers – and HK Handel is still building up organizing capacity within the union. Per took over a National Union with a deficit of more than 500.000,00 Euros in the annual budget – Per has made a turnaround in the national union – so despite the fact building up capacity in organizing in the Union – the Union is run with a surplus – building up not only organizing strength but also financial strength.
HK Handel is beside dealing with all the Coronavirus impacts on workers and workplaces in Denmark – right now targeting the E-Commerce businesses in Denmark having successfully closed five collective agreements in five companies – right now negotiating for the sixth. HK Handel is also in talks with the employer’s association to form a national collective agreement for the E-Commerce businesses in Denmark. In March, just before the Coronavirus entered Denmark, Per closed the negotiations for a new three-year collective agreement for the retail and wholesale sector with impact on the working conditions for more than 130.000 workers in Denmark. The result has to be approved by the members in the union, and HK Handel had the biggest participation ever in the vote with more than 66% of the entire membership voting and 95% of the votes accepted the result.
Besides being president of the commerce workers union, Per is in the daily management of the HK Union covering more than 260.000 skilled Administrative and Commerce workers in the public and private sector in Denmark. Per is also part of the Danish TUC board, He is the Vice-president of the Pension fund PFA – which is the second biggest institutional investor in Denmark – managing more than 70 Billion Euros in investments throughout the world, and Per has several other national and international positions.