Eurofound’s fifth annual yearbook, Living and working in Europe, based on the Agency’s research from 2013, describes developments in the EU in the wake of the crisis, focusing on major topic areas including changes in labour markets and employment, efforts to tackle youth unemployment, innovation in workplaces and public trust in institutions.
Central public administrations (including defence) have been put under most pressure throughout the crisis,recording massive job losses. According to their statistics, the single biggest cut was experienced in France, with the axing of 54,000 jobs in military and civilian defence announced in June 2008 by the French government. In Europe overall, employment has contracted by 3% in the public sector.
The reforms seen have included introducing new organisational structures, new management cultures with greater emphasis on performance, and new human resource management techniques and an expansion of outsourcing strategies.
The report also underlines that many new entrants into the public sector are over-qualified for the positions they take, as a result of high youth unemployment. With limited job vacancies, many young, highly educated unemployed are willing to take any job they can get.
To accompany job losses, Eurofound also point out the worsening of working conditions for public administration workers. Talking about the impact of reforms the report states that “(they) have had some negative effects on central public administration workers and their working conditions, including reduced job security, cuts or freezes in earnings, increased working times and workloads, and reduced opportunities for skill development.”
The one-sided approach to austerity has meant that relations between trade unions and governments have been particularly cold. Commenting on Eurofound’s yearbook, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said “While it is not news that social dialogue has been one of the biggest victims of this crisis, it is important that the Commission listen to its own agencies and take into account the challenges facing public sector workers. With a new figure soon at the head of the Commission, there is an opportunity to put right what has gone so badly wrong over the past few years.”
The full report Eurofound yearbook 2013: Living and working in Europe can be read here.