From Zones of Exception to Transformative Issue: How Posting of Workers Affect Industrial Relations in Danish Construction

Friday, June 24, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
228 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Jens Arnholtz, FAOS, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Since the EU-enlargement of 2004, posting of workers under the rules of free movement of services has become a highly contested issue. In a number of older member states, posting is seen as a challenge to national systems of labor market regulation and the preservation of social standards. As Lillie (2010) has argued posting can create 'zones of exceptions' in host country labor markets. Employers can be used these zones of eception to circumvent national compromises regarding labor market standards without challenging these compromises head on. As such, most studies of posting have focused on the labor standards of posted workers and their potential implications for the labor standards of host country workers (Caro et. al., 2015; Wagner, 2014; Thörnqvist og Bernhardsson, 2015), but without giving much consideration to the implication of posting for the institutional structures of the host countries.

However through a detailed case study of the historical developments in the industrial relations of Danish construction, this paper shows how posting has become a transformative issue that deeply affects and challenges the traditional system and the national compromises it has produced in the past. More specifically, the paper show that the issue of posting has caused a gradual deterioration of the otherwise trustful relations between the social partners in Danish construction sector and that posting is introducing new actors and principles into the regulations of the Danish labor market. This description of the development in Danish industrial relations stands in sharp contrast to prior conclusions in the literature (Blauberger 2011; Seikel 2015), where Denmark has been highlighted as a best-case illustration how the problems of posting could be resolved by policy-makers at the national level. As such, this case study raised broader trans-European questions about the possibilities of upholding diversity of national regulatory in the process of European integration.