Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2002, page 39-58.
Henrik Lambrecht Lund
The article discuss the questions of how integrated management systems involving environmental, working environment and ethical issues effect workplace democracy, and how the employees can participate in the development of more sustainable workplaces. The theoretical contribution consists of an analytical framework concerning participation in management systems and the development of a concept of democratic employee participation at the workplace level. The analysis involves two case studies of enterprises that have recently undergone a process of modernisation by employing either Environmental Management Systems or Systematic Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems. The normative point of departure for the article is based on the idea that it is possible to develop the enterprise so that management and employees co-operate to develop more sustainable production methods and workplace democracy at the same time. In relation to this hypothesis, the article investigates the following questions: What significance do the new management systems have for workplace democracy and for the employees 'opportunity for putting environmental and OHS issues on the agenda? Relatedly, what are the consequences of the employees' opportunity to act collectively in relation to OHS and environmental issues? The Danish labour movement has extended its orientation toward sustainability by using new strategies under the general title of 'developing workplaces'. However, the article concludes that first mover and so-called best practice environmental and OHS enterprises do not take the interests of employees into consideration. Therefore, the unions have to develop an independent and strong workplace democracy, which is capable of making management systems an object of reflection and negotiation. Only by doing this will it be possible to combine preventive OHS and environmental actions at the workplace level with a change in societal development towards sustainability.