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School of Management & Business

Strengthening Public Services Social Dialogue in an Era of Austerity

Closed Conference: BY INVITATION ONLY

21st February 2013 11am - 4.30pm

The International Auditorium, International Trade Union House, Boulevard du Roi Albert II, No. 5/2, B-1210 Brussels, Room C

A final Conference will be held at the International Trade Union house in Brussels linked to the comparative European Union project: Managing workforce change: Strengthening public services social dialogue in an era of austerity, coordinated by Professor Stephen Bach from King's College London.

The conference provides an opportunity to bring together key stakeholders in core public services, particularly local government, to examine how social dialogue is contributing to managing workfroce change and how it can be sustained and strengthened in the current era.

Two innovative examples will be presented by practitioners of two local authorities from the Netherlands and UK.

At the conference we will also hear from experts of the participating countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, and the UK). Overall the conference will:

  1. present and discuss findings from the research including European experience in responding to austerity.
  2. allow participants to reflect on their own experience of how workforce change is being managed in tough times.

Conference Programme 2013

To attend registration is required. Please contact Alexandra Stroleny ( for information.

Research Objectives

Research objectives

The comparative research project investigates how employers, trade unions and public authorities are managing workforce change in a period of widespread restructuring. It aims to understand the particular challenges facing the social partners, what strategies they are putting in place to manage change and what contribution forms of employee consultation and involvement i.e. social dialogue can make in maintaining high quality public services. A key goal is to encourage the adaption of these systems of consultation and involvement to deal with new challenges.

The focus of the fieldwork is on responses to restructuring in six EU countries. The questions driving the project include:

  • What have been the main drivers and measures of austerity adopted in each country?
  • How have these changes been implemented? To what extent has social dialogue contributed to the change process at national, sectoral and workplace level?
  • How have institutions of social dialogue influenced industrial relations processes/ outcomes in the public services?


The research project runs for a year until March 2013 and has been funded by the EU social dialogue unit. The comparative study comprises six countries: the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain. The project is being coordinated by Stephen Bach, Professor of Employment Relations at the Department of Management, King's College London.

The fieldwork has three phases. Phase one involved mapping public service employment relations trends under conditions of austerity in terms of process and outcomes. Phase 2 involved interviews with employers, trade unions and public authorities to gauge the strategies they are using to manage change. Phase 3 involves selected case studies of local authorities. These case studies provide a deeper understanding of the change process, especially how authorities are transforming work organisation and managing their paybill effectively to improve service delivery and encourage employee voice. Case studies involve interviews with key participants from management and the workforce and the examination of key documentation.

The research aims to generate new understanding about public service change in differing contexts in Europe and aims to strengthen employee involvement by highlighting how change can be managed effectively in tough times.


Final Conference: Photos

Brussels Conference Photo's_Bach Brussels Conference Phot's_Mailand

Brussels Conference Photos SlomanBrussels Conference Photos Participants

Final Conference: Presentations

A series of presentations was held at the final project conference on 21st Feb 2013 in Brussels.

Case studies: Innovative approaches to adjustment in local government


Comparative Report Executive SummariesNational ReportsResearch Partner Workshop

A research partner workshop was held at King's College London in September 2012 to present preliminary findings of each country.

EC Partners meeting Sept2012

CZ-Czech Republic




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