European Urban Public Transport: Towards a single European employment model
Department of Sociology Trinity College Dublin Dublin, Ireland
Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation University of Duisberg-Essen Duisberg, Germany
Public transport in European cities has traditionally been provided by publicly owned enterprises. Public transport was an example of ?good bad jobs?: unskilled, but with job security and high informal autonomy, and above all, unionised. Recent changes in the governance of urban public transport have ensured that public transport enterprises are being privatised and/or exposed to competition. This paper uses a comparative study of urban public transport in five European countries (Austria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland and Italy) to address two inter-related questions. Firstly, are these changes resulting in a single European employment model in the sector, or do national employment models continue? Secondly, are changes in employment related to changes in service quality: is there a trade-off between service quality and employment quality?
The first part of the paper outlines the emergence of what we term a ?New European Public Transport Model? shaped by European competition policy. We show how changes in the regulation of public transport have facilitated the emergence of new actors, most obviously international companies.
The second part of the paper analyses the changes in employment and industrial relations. Although there has not been any massive destruction of jobs, overall employment is declining. Despite union fears, there has been no wide spread casualisation. There has also been no direct onslaught on trade unions, but especially in Germany unions have effectively engaged in concession bargaining, trading continued job security for wages and conditions. Crucially, national differences in bargaining patterns have if anything become greater. A common European regulatory framework has not produced a common pattern of employment or industrial relations.
The third part of the paper uses this diversity to explore the relationship between employment quality and service quality. Trade union advocates argue that service quality and employment quality are linked, but some advocates of the NEPTM argue that strong trade unions ensure that employees benefit at the cost of transport users. Our evidence suggests that neither thesis is correct: there is no necessary relationship between the quality of employment and the quality of public service. Here too national institutional systems remain decisive.