The role of agreements between labour unions and employers in the regulation of the work environment

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Abstract:

Traditionally, agreements between labour unions and employers' associations have been a rare instrument of work environment regulation. However, they appear to be becoming more significant. There is a growing tendency in Denmark to integrate agreements and legislation. One of the reasons for this development is the higher priority given to the psychosocial work environment. This area is generally difficult to regulate, even by the reflexive form of work environment legislation currently in use, as its character makes it difficult to set fixed norms that can be measured objectively. In addition, the prevention of psychosocial strains requires changes in the organisation of work and management of human resources. Both areas are normally controlled by management and to some extent influenced by collective agreements relating to the wage system and working hours. Deregulation and EU legislation also put the labour unions and employers' associations under pressure, forcing them to look for new roles. A stronger role in work environment regulation could be a possibility. Agreements between the social partners about the work environment may introduce new dynamics if they result in a greater commitment to improvement on the parts of both the social partners and the companies. Strong co-operation between the work environment authorities and the social partners seems to be necessary. However, achievement of such co-operation is far from straightforward. On the one hand, employers may find the work environment requirements too strict; on the other, union members may find them exactly the opposite.

Keywords: AGREEMENTS; REGULATION; SOCIAL PARTNERS; WORK ENVIRONMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • Policy and Practice in Health and Safety is an international journal published twice a year. It's designed as a forum for academic and policy discourse on health and safety and is aimed at those who practise, tutor, research or study health and safety regulation and management. All published papers have undergone a double-blind refereeing process by at least two referees.

    Policy and Practice is an important source of reference for anyone studying or working at a professional level in health and safety. It'll help to keep you up to speed on developing debates on a wide range of topics.

    The editor, David Walters, Professor of Work Environment at the Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre, leads Policy and Practice's authoritative international editorial board. The journal addresses practical workplace health and safety issues as well as focusing on a broader context - the social, economic and political discussions that shape employment and work.

    Subjects covered in recent issues include comparisons of different regulatory and management frameworks, case studies of occupational safety and health in individual locations, and the impact of economic and political factors on health and safety.
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