Aftalemodellen i opbrud? - Østarbejdere og tjenesteyderes pres på den danske aftalemodel i byggesektoren

Christian Scheel Struwe & Julia Salado-Rasmussen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish labour market has one of the world’s highest levels of union membership. The social partners regulate the labour market through collective agreements and the state plays a minor role. The industrial relations system is typically referred to as the Danish model. As a result of the European Union's eastern enlargement in 2004 and 2007 a large number of workers from the central and eastern European countries (CEEC) have taken up employment and provided services in Denmark. 75 pct of the CEEC migrants and posted workers are employed in the Danish construction sector, where they make up roughly 10-13 pct of the employees. Most of these workers have not engaged in the organisations that make up the social partners. Researchers estimate organisation levels for the workers as low as 2-4 pct. and assume that 5-15 pct. of the service providers are covered by collective agreements. This thesis explores the effects of EU’s eastern enlargement on the industrial relations in the construction sector and whether these effects have led to deinstitutionalization of the Danish Model. Applying an industrial relations framework the four critical dimensions which constitute the Danish labour market are identified: 1) High degrees of social partner membership and coverage of bargaining agreements 2) Conflict and consensus 3) Voluntarism – self-governance with a minimum of legislation and 4) Collective bargaining agreements. These dimensions in the construction sector are analysed for changes using neo-institutional theory. Through qualitative interviews with seven representatives of the social partners and the state, as well as analysis of quantitative data and legal documents, the impact of the workers from the CEEC is analysed. The findings of the thesis are a much lower degree of participation in the labour market organisations and a steep increase in the number of blockades and conflicts that are felt directly at the local level. Additionally the bargaining power of the local organisations is weakened due to the inability of the new workers to make use of local negotiations. The central partners have experienced certain pressure from EU’s eastern enlargement, as verdicts from the European Court of Justice challenge the Danish way of regulating the labour market. The thesis concludes that several incremental changes can be seen in the industrial relations in the construction sector and as a consequence all four dimensions of the Danish Model have been weakened. At the local level the social partners are experiencing a functional pressure forcing them to take new initiatives which challenge the existing logics of behaviour on the labour market and consequently foster a small degree of deinstitutionalization at sectoral and local level. The central organizations are not affected by the functional pressure to the same degree because of the limited size of the construction sector relative to the whole labour market. In spite of signs of deinstitutionalization of the Danish Model on the sectoral and local levels in the construction sector, the model as a whole has not been deinstitutionalized.

EducationsAdministration, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date29 Aug 2009
SupervisorsBent Greve


  • EU
  • Fagbevægelse
  • Aftalemodel
  • Arbejdsmarked
  • Østarbejdere