Active enactment and virtuous circles of employment relations: how Danish unions organised the transnationalised Copenhagen Metro construction project

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Abstract

Transnational workers on large-scale construction projects are often trapped in vicious circles of employment relations and therefore poorly included in national IR systems. This article shows how Danish unions have nonetheless been successful in enacting existing institutions and organising the construction of the Copenhagen Metro City Ring, despite initially encountering a highly fragmented, transnational workforce and several sub-contracting firms that actively sought to circumvent Danish labour market regulation. The article argues that this organising success is explained by parallel developments in unions’ organising efforts, and enforcement strategies, as well as by changes in the developers’ attitude to employment relations. The article further compares the Danish experience with prior research on similar cases in other countries and argues that the explanation for the Danish success is found in the combination of targeted organising, politicisation and strategic enforcement.
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Transnational workers on large-scale construction projects are often trapped in vicious circles of employment relations and therefore poorly included in national IR systems. This article shows how Danish unions have nonetheless been successful in enacting existing institutions and organising the construction of the Copenhagen Metro City Ring, despite initially encountering a highly fragmented, transnational workforce and several sub-contracting firms that actively sought to circumvent Danish labour market regulation. The article argues that this organising success is explained by parallel developments in unions’ organising efforts, and enforcement strategies, as well as by changes in the developers’ attitude to employment relations. The article further compares the Danish experience with prior research on similar cases in other countries and argues that the explanation for the Danish success is found in the combination of targeted organising, politicisation and strategic enforcement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment and Society
ISSN0950-0170
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes
ID: 289262532