Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 4 2008, page 28-42.
Nurses’ influence on professional quality in the workplace
Annegrethe Ahrenkiel, Betina Dybbroe og Finn M. Sommer
This article deals with the way work committees in the field of health function as a setting for discussions of problems related to the working environment of nurses. What is the connection between themes and problems raised by employees in informal settings and the themes and problems that characterize the discussions and negotiations in the formal work committee structure in the Danish health sector? What are the possibilities and the space of action for nurses in relation to the working environment, quality of work, trade union and the field of health? The last question was the general question examined in a newly completed research project focusing on shop stewards in the trade union for nurses. In this article we focus on results relating to the processes of negotiation and decision making, information and dialogue in formal as well as informal structures of collaboration between shop stewards and employers. We have especially looked into the themes of quality of work and the working environment, as these themes have a high priority and appear absolutely interconnected from the perspective of the nurses. Utilising Bernstein’s concept of ‘framing’, the research addresses questions such as: ‘what can be discussed’, ‘in which ways’, ‘in which contexts’ and ‘with which consequences’? The analysis demonstrates that the communication in work committees often is regulated in ways which disqualifies the important themes that preoccupy ordinary members of the union of nurses. As a consequence, it is very difficult to have problems related to the working environment become the object of political discussion, regulation and action.