This comparative project is investigating the nature of public sector pay reforms during the current period of fiscal austerity and seeks to understand in particular the challenges facing social partners, the associated strategies of procurement and the combined effects on patterns of wage and employment inequalities. It hopes to extend current knowledge by focusing on the specific roles of social partners in a context of rapidly changing government policy.
Questions driving the project include:
- what are the varied public sector pay reforms underway in different countries and how are these shaped by the particular national model of public sector pay?
- what are the responses of social partners and have there been changes in social dialogue processes?
- has government use of public sector procurement changed and with what effects on employment conditions?
- what are the combined effects of pay reforms and procurement strategies on wage and employment inequalities?
During 2011 and 2012 the project is comparing the experiences of five European countries – France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden and the UK – and is putting together an original database of both quantitative and qualitative data. Fieldwork includes interviews with social partner representatives at the national and European levels, as well as a detailed case-study investigation of pay and procurement issues in local government. Secondary data illuminate the patterns of pay reforms, pay settlements and wage and employment inequalities for the period 2006-2011.
There is very strong policy interest at member state and EU levels regarding the character and effects of ongoing public sector pay reforms and procurement strategies. It is hoped this proposed project will disseminate new knowledge of how to improve the integral processes of social dialogue in the European region. A major conference in Brussels on 22-23 November 2012 will disseminate the main findings of the project and debate the implications for government policy social partners’ strategies.