07 November 2004
On 12 October 2004, during ongoing negotiations over new staff 'service regulations' (ie terms and conditions of employment) between the management of Austria’s largest banking institute, Bank Austria-Creditanstalt (BA-CA), and its central works council, the former unexpectedly announced its immediate withdrawal from the savings banks employers' association and its simultaneous joining of the commercial banks association. According to BA-CA management, this move to another employers' association means a change of service regulations for its workforce, which should now follow the collective agreement for the commercial banks subsector. The chief executive of BA-CA, Erich Hampel, stated that from 13 October 2004 all 11,000 of the company's employees were covered by the commercial banks collective agreement and that subsector’s uniform service regulations, and that this move was irreversible.
26 October 2004
In principle, collective bargaining in Austria, which is confined to the private sector, takes place at multi-employer sectoral or industry level. The public sector is excluded from formal bargaining, but negotiations between public sector trade unions and government representatives are likewise conducted, with parliament determining the terms of employment (AT9912207F ). Private sector collective bargaining results in more than 400 separate collective agreements annually, covering about 98% of all private sector employees. Only a few dozen of the agreements cover a larger number of employees in broadly defined sectors or industries, while the majority are narrow subsectoral agreements or separate agreements on specific issues, some of them concluded at federal state (Land) level only. Despite the large number of agreements concluded annually, the wage bargaining system is strongly coordinated across the economy, primarily based on the pattern-setting role played by the metalworking industry in the overall bargaining process (AT0210202F ). This means that the metalworking collective agreement sets the pace for subsequent negotiations in other bargaining units in the course of the annual autumn bargaining round (usually starting in October).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/structures-and-patterns-in-collective-bargaining-reviewed  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/autumn-bargaining-round-opens-against-background-of-rising-unemployment
04 October 2004
On 8 September 2004, the president of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB), Fritz Verzetnitsch, announced the definite failure of a union merger initiative involving four ÖGB affiliates. This announcement did not come as a surprise, since long-standing disagreements between the unions concerned have flared up during recent months (AT0406201N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/plans-for-major-union-merger-in-danger-of-failure
26 September 2004
Spring 2003 saw a series of strikes and protest actions directed against the government’s plans to introduce a far-reaching state pensions reform (AT0306201N ), which was eventually endorsed by parliament on 11 June 2003, though in a slightly modified form compared with the original draft. Contrary to Austria’s tradition of intense social partner involvement in important social policy matters, a social partners' joint initiative to find an alternative to the government’s reform proposals was not taken up by the latter (AT0305202F ). However, the strike actions mainly organised by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) - which were the most far-reaching such protests Austria has experienced since the Second World War, with hundreds of thousands of employees participating (AT0401203F ) - did have an impact: although the pensions reform passed by parliament entails substantial welfare cuts for future beneficiaries, organised labour managed to achieve some mitigation of the original draft, in particular an overall ceiling of 10% on the pension losses resulting from the reform. Moreover, in an effort to forestall further protest actions, the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) announced that the various pension systems for different occupational groups would be harmonised by the end of 2003, as demanded by the trade unions.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/further-strikes-as-pensions-talks-fail  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/government-challenges-social-partnership  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/2003-annual-review-for-austria
05 September 2004
During summer 2004, the Austrian media have alleged a series of cases of large-scale 'social fraud' committed by companies in various sectors. The most recent and prominent such cases refer to a large German-based food retailer that runs hundreds of stores in Austria and a road haulage company headquartered in Carinthia.
23 August 2004
On 13 August 2004 - as in the previous August (AT0309202F ) - Austrian (the former Austrian Airlines national air carrier) was hit by limited strike action involving flight crew. As a consequence, according to management, a number of the day’s scheduled flights had to be cancelled at short notice, which disrupted the travel plans of some 6,000 passengers who had booked a flight with Austrian. The financial costs caused to the company by the action amounted to at least EUR 650,000.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/dispute-at-austrian-airlines
12 August 2004
The phenomenon of undeclared work - defined as 'any paid activities that are lawful as regards their nature but not declared to the public authorities'- is an issue which has been preoccupying the EU institutions for a number of years. In 1998, the European Commission issued a Communication  on undeclared work, which was designed to launch a debate on the causes of such work and the policy options for combating it (EU9804197F ). It suggested that there was a need to clarify the causes and extent, and concluded that combating undeclared work should be part of the overall European employment strategy .  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/commission-targets-undeclared-work  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm
10 August 2004
On 30 June 2004, most of the 2,700 or so employees of Postbus AG, Austria’s largest bus operator, which runs a large proportion of regional bus services, held a series of half-day works meetings. As a consequence, almost all the company’s vehicles were kept in their garages during the morning, causing inconvenience for more than half a million passengers (in particular school pupils) in reaching their destinations. The meetings were organised by the company’s works council in order to inform the employees about, and protest against, government plans to sell a third of Postbus AG to private bus companies.
22 July 2004
According to the latest data from the Labour Market Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS), there were 202,787 unemployed people on average in June 2004, which corresponds to an overall unemployment rate of 5.9%. This represented a slight increase of 0.9% on the same month in 2003. A notable feature is that the rise in overall unemployment - in contrast to the trend over 2001-3 - results exclusively from an increase in women’s unemployment, whereas men’s unemployment has decreased slightly, as has youth unemployment. This marks a possible turning point in a long-standing and continuous tendency of rising unemployment among the latter groups since 2001. It is important to note that all these figures are calculated according to the Austrian method of counting unemployment, as established by the AMS. The EU method of calculation produces an unemployment rate of 4.2% for June 2004.
06 July 2004
A public debate on possible longer working hours has recently been initiated by the new president of the Federation of Austrian Industry (Industriellenvereinigung, IV), Veit Sorger, who was elected in mid-June 2004. The IV is a cross-sector voluntary employers’ organisation representing manufacturing industry, and covers part of the domain of the Chamber of the Economy (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), of which membership is obligatory for employers. At his inaugural press conference on 16 June, implicitly referring to the broad working time debate that has arisen in Germany (DE0306109F ), the IV president called into question Austria’s working time regime, which is perceived as being rigid and too inflexible by most of the IV members. Mr Sorger stated that, in order to improve the competitiveness of Austria’s businesses, an extension of overall working hours and/or a reduction in the number of public holidays would be inevitable. He called on the government to realise its own programme for the current legislative period, which includes plans for a further flexibilisation of working hours.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/controversy-over-working-time