A Trade Union's View of the Building Process

John Larsen1, Gunde Odgaard2 & Sidse Buch3

1President of the Cartel of unions in the Building, Construction and Wood sectors (BAT-kartellet) and President of the building and construction section of The National Union of General Workers. [email protected].
2General Secretary of the Cartel of unions in the Building, Construction and Wood sectors (BAT-kartellet). BAT-secretariat, Kampmannsgade 4, DK-1790 Copenhagen. [email protected].
3Consultant in the Cartel of unions in the Building, Construction and Wood sectors (BAT-kartellet). BATsecretariat, Kampmannsgade 4, DK-1790 Copenhagen. [email protected].


The Danish Building and Construction Workers Unions primary concern is to improve the overall working conditions for the construction workers. We are also determined to increase the quality, productivity and efficiency in the construction industry. We consider the theory of Lean Construction as a viable means to achieve these goals. Lean Construction puts the construction worker into focus, as he is the only participant in the building process directly generating value to the customer. Since the building process is a co-operation vertically and horizontally between many different participants it can best be understood as a form of teamwork. The teamwork inherent in this building process requires every participant to be dependent on each other. The process must be based on mutual respect and recognition of all the participants’ competencies. If the trade unions are to achieve our goals this recognition is an absolute prerequisite. The unions view Lean Construction as a means to increase the construction workers’ responsibility and influence by recognizing their qualifications regarding planning, coordination, cooperation and decision-making. The International Federation of Building and Woodworkers, IFBWW4 supports these views, although pointing out that the concept of Lean Construction is mostly applicable to the construction sectors of industrial rather than developing countries. This paper reviews research in cooperation, teamwork and life-long learning, and reports interviews with 28 construction workers who have participated in Lean Construction or Lean Construction related projects.


trade union, working conditions, construction workers



Larsen, J. , Odgaard, G. & Buch, S. 2003. A Trade Union's View of the Building Process, 11th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , -. doi.org/

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