9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN17 Industrial Relations, Labour Market Institutions and Employment

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Industrial Relations in the Public Sector Building AA, Auditório Silva Leal

Unions and the Reform of Public Administration and Public Service Employment: The Portuguese Case

Until recently, employment relations in the Portuguese public and civil service were regulated by a statute that provided significant employment security, service and seniority-based promotions, standardization and uniformity in treatment. Since 2001-02, a ?Reform of Public Administration? has incrementally implemented measures of general spending reduction, focusing on reducing expenditure with public employees through containment of salaries and promotions and reducing employment, as well as basic measures of administrative reform and the introduction of human resource management into the public sector: these encompass organizational rationalization on the basis of elimination of redundant services and employee mobility, the conversion of civil service status to a generic employment contract for the majority of public employees, management flexibilization and performance-based evaluation and uniformity of the career and promotion structure. These reforms present ?revolutionary? challenges to the public and civil service unions, the majority of whom are committed to the defense of the traditional public service model. Given the importance of employment in this sector in Portugal and of public sector unions to the overall Portuguese labor movement, the outcomes of these reforms will influence the evolution and restructuring of Portuguese industrial relations more generally. The unions have reacted to the successive governments? proposals not only by demanding to be an interlocutor participating in the conception of institutional and organizational improvement but also by drawing defensive lines to protect a pattern of service born from an earlier period?s ?effort bargain?. They have nevertheless had distinct approaches to the negotiation of the Reform measures in accordance with their ideological-political and strategic profiles. In this paper we will present and analyze the measures of Reform of public employment relations in articulation with an analysis of the perspectives and positions of the Portuguese public employee unions ? which will be presented as union profiles. We will finally examine the possible consequences of the diverse union profiles for bargaining outcomes, for trade unionism in the public services and for the Portuguese labor movement as a whole.