Citizenship, Public Service, and the Employment Relationship
This paper reports on the effects on employment relations and conceptions of citizenship of the shift from bureaucratic to market-led forms of public service provision in britain. Two contrasting case studies are reported, one based on the public education service, the other on the utilities. Education, which remains within the public sector, has become subject to a high degree of hierarchical control through political and administrative processes which together amount to a form of 'imposed contractualism'. Excessively prescriptive performance targets are in danger of bringing about a low-trust dynamic within employment relations, which in turn threatens the viability of government-initiated reforms. By contrast, in the privatised (and re-regulated) utilities, collective bargaining has been re-emerging in the last few years on the basis of 'partnership' arrangements between labour and management. However, the regulatory framework continues to place employers under continuous pressure to cut costs and to reduce employment levels. The partnership solution is therefore in many ways a highly precarious one, which may not survive further tightening of regulatory controls.
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