• Reconstructing resistance and renewal in public service unionism in the twenty-first century: lessons from a century of war and peace

      Gill-McLure, Whyeda; Thörnqvist, Christer; Management Research Centre, Wolverhampton Business School, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK; School of Business, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden (Routledge, 2017-10-26)
      This special issue uses the occasion of the centenary of the Whitley Commission Reports to illuminate the contemporary crisis in public service industrial relations from a historical perspective. In all six countries studied—Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the USA—public service employment is labour intensive and quantitatively significant in the overall economy. Public services have also been major targets of neoliberal reforms, starting in the UK and the USA at the turn of the 1980s and in the other countries about a decade later. In addition, the relatively high union density and the political dimension of public services and public union strategies have been major targets of new public management and more latterly austerity. However, the regressive period has had a differential impact in different countries. In the liberal market economies of the UK and the USA, the neoliberal turn has destabilised traditional patterns of public sector industrial relations to greatest effect. While in the more coordinated market economies, traditional arrangements and values have been more resistant to austerity and neoliberal reforms. We attempt to shed light on these differential impacts through a critical analysis of the historical evolution of public sector industrial relations in each country.