|Miguel A. Malo, senior economist at the ILO’s International Institute for Labour Studies.|
At first, one might be tempted to agree: that there is one labour market so there should be one labour law. But in reality, employment relationships are more complicated than that. Think about how public and private jobs are funded, for example. Governments pay for public jobs using tax payers’ money, while companies rely on the goods and services they sell to finance their workforce.
|Profits are a key element that separates the public and private spheres."|
Consider the case of teachers working at a public school, where parents do not make any direct payment into the children’s education. Any increase in teachers’ wages will add pressure on the school’s budget, which is usually less flexible than in the private sector. The school can ask for more money for the teachers but first it needs to show that the quality of its education is going up, and that takes time. Besides, any increase would have to be agreed across all public schools in the community and would have an impact on the entire school system.
|Collective bargaining rights are not the same for public and private sectors."|
Finally, in many countries, collective bargaining rights are not the same for public and private sectors. For example, civil servants, (and other types of public workers), might not be able to negotiate their wages directly with the employer, as this would limit parliament’s prerogative to decide on the size and distribution of the government’s budget. This is usually compensated for by other benefits for public workers.
True, the public and private sectors are becoming increasingly interrelated. Outsourcing – contracting an external business for an internal process – is one way that’s bringing these two worlds closer together. But this convergence will never be complete. The public and private sectors are different by nature. And labour law has to reflect that.