Privatisation of public services and the impact on employment and labour relations: the examples of the electricity industry and postal services
--- FORBA - Working Life Research Centre Vienna, Austria
Public services such as electricity and postal services have been liberalised and privatised across Europe. The paper will examine the impact of liberalisation and privatisation on employment and working conditions and labour relations. It will do so by using empirical evidence form 13 company case studies carried out in the two sectors and in six different countries (as part of the EU funded research project ?Privatisation of public services and the impact on Quality, Employment and Productivity? - www.pique.at). The company case studies themselves are based on interviews with management, workers and works council or trade union representatives.
The case studies show that liberalisation and privatisation has led to an overall fragmentation of employment conditions and labour relations, in many cases coupled with a deterioration of working conditions. However, while in the electricity industry differences emerge within former monopoly providers with different regulations applying to ?old? and ?new? staff, in postal services differences are particularly pronounced between post incumbents and new competitors. In countries such as Germany and Austria new competitors on the postal markets pay considerably lower wages and employ their workers mainly on marginal part-time jobs (Germany) or as self-employed mail deliverers (Austria). Yet while liberalisation and privatisation led to a transformation of the traditional public sector employment system, the comparison also shows that there are important differences between countries depending not least on the national industrial relations systems.