Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 2 2003, page 27-42.
Peter Hasle, Jens Voxtrup Petersen og Inger-Marie Wiegman
Agreements between labour unions and employers about the working environment have become important in Denmark. The agreements are even being integrated into the legislation. One of the reasons is the higher priority given to the psycho-social working environment. It is an issue which is difficult to regulate even by the present reflexive working environment legislation, because it is difficult to set fixed norms which can be measured in an objective way. At the same time, prevention of psychosocial strains requires changes in work organization and human resource management which are normally controlled by management with some influence from collective agreements on the wage system and working hours.
Deregulation and EU-legislation are also putting the labour unions and the employers associations under pressure, and they are looking for new roles. A stronger role in working environment regulation could be a possibility. Agreements between the labour market parties about the working environment may open up new dynamics if it results in stronger commitment for improvements both by the labour market parties and by the enterprises. But it is also necessary to have a strong and committed cooperation between the working environment authorities, the labour unions and the employers associations. It is an open question whether both unions and employers can handle such a responsibility, which may sometimes lead to criticism from their members - either from employers thinking the working environment requirements are too strict or from union members thinking exactly the opposite.