The Danes take their lunacy seriously. There is nothing new in that. They have been doing it since Shakespeare's time, when Hamlet noticed something was rotten in the state of Denmark and decided feigning madness was the way to clean the place up. Still, Asians might be permitted a moment of incredulous hilarity when the country's trade unions called a 10-day general strike to win an extra week of statutory paid holiday for the private sector. That is a total of six weeks a year for all, plus public holidays. Done laughing yet? Here is another cracker. The Government intervened in a manner so heavy-handed, not even Margaret Thatcher in her heyday would have dared try it: Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen forced an emergency decree through parliament bringing the strike to an end. You can do that sort of thing in much of Asia. Among democracies it is considered a little unusual. Denmark is rare among western European countries in having a constitution which permits the Government to take drastic action to halt a strike as soon as it becomes clear the management and the unions have no intention of reaching a compromise. The International Labour Organisation does not approve and has condemned Denmark each time the law has been used. But then, who listens to the ILO? In fact, since both sides know the Government will stop the strike in the end, they do not usually bother to negotiate. Oh, but we were about to tell you the punchline. Mr Rasmussen stopped the strike, but awarded the workers their extra holiday anyway. There will be two extra days for everyone. Plus three extra days a year for parents of children under 14 to spend with their offspring. Workers are incensed. They feel the bosses have been given too easy a ride. Of course, there is something for management too. Employers' contributions to workers' health and pension funds will be cut. In the end, the taxpayer will have to pay. No doubt, health and pension benefits will have to be slimmed down as well. Meanwhile, left-wing commentators are predicting wildcat strikes by workers dissatisfied with the way the Government has short-changed those who do not have small children. The Danes, we can all agree, are crazy. Here they are, faced with rising unemployment and increased competition from cheap Asian imports - and they make themselves even more uncompetitive. They have even lost their edge over neighbouring Germany, where six weeks holiday and compulsory time off to tend the family vegetable patch are already the norm. But in Germany, the Metalworkers Union - the country's most powerful - has just come out with a demand for a 32-hour week, without any reduction in pay. The claim is that with unemployment creeping up to 13 per cent, the only socially responsible answer is to share the remaining work more fairly. In freewheeling Asia, where a 50-hour week is a luxury, and hard work is all that keeps the wolf from the door, all this will seem quaintly comic. Asians know a good worker toils for long, grinding hours for low pay, never takes a holiday and gets his reward by feeding his family whatever meagre food he can afford after housing, education, playing the stock-market, speculating on property and stashing away a vast slab of his income for a rainy day. On the other hand, after he stops laughing at the Danes and the Germans, the average Korean, or even one of Hong Kong's small band of unemployed, might wonder if the Europeans have a point. Imagine, he could work a 32-hour week and share his job with someone else, instead of working 64 hours a week and then being laid off. No, no . . . Just dreaming. Tea-break over. Back to work.