Table of Contents

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Andrew J. Noblet and Cary L. Cooper

This insightful book presents current thinking and research evidence on the role of human resource management policies and practices in increasing service quality, efficiency and organizational effectiveness in the public sector.

Chapter 12: Trade unions and organizational change in the public sector: the new politics of public sector industrial relations

Miguel Martínez Lucio

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


Changes in the public sector since the 1970s have been pretty dramatic in developed and developing countries, and since the 1990s one could argue many countries are now reforming and changing the structure and content of their public sector and relevant service provision. From a state oriented and collective logic in terms of public services there has been a steady shift toward a market and individualized approach. That this shift has brought countless issues, major social distortions and new forms of conflict is undeniable (see Martínez Lucio, 2007). However, the post-Second World War consensus on public services has been challenged. In terms of the regulation of employment within this sector there have been parallel changes as well. Public sector industrial relations have tended to be more regulated in one form or another, with trade unions being important in various countries within these processes. However, the process of marketization and de-centralization has questioned the role of these more regulated forms. The changes in terms of employment and worker representation have been broad, ranging from the greater use of subcontracting to the development of more intensive performance management schemes. One could argue that there has been greater work intensification within the way public sector workers perform their tasks and a greater sense of uncertainty, insecurity and flexibility.

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