Susan Corby and Geoff White (eds.), Employee Relations in the Public Services: Themes and Issues, London: Routledge 1999, £60.00, paper £19.99, x+238 pp.
Stephen Bach, Lorenzo Bordogna, Guiseppe della Rocca and David Winchester (eds.), Public Service Employment Relations in Europe: Transformation, Modernization or Inertia?, London: Routledge, 1999, £60.00, paper £20.99, xi+244 pp.
Any text on, or review of, labour regulation in the public sector has traditionally begun by remarking on the relative historical neglect of the subject compared to the allegedly more exciting world of its private-sector equivalent. State employment relationships have often been characterised by a number of relatively exceptional features, many of which have not tended to enthuse researchers. These traits include: the abiding, but complicating, role, of political contingency; highly bureaucratic and introverted institutional regulation; politically quiescent labour relations; and virtual absence of management as an independent actor. Additionally, many state workers are classed as public servants to whom restrictive and unpliable forms of legal status may apply, which can in turn affect such workers' scope to organise collectively.