19 maj 2003
On 6 May 2003, hundreds of thousands of workers participated in tens of thousands of assemblies and 'defence strikes,' protesting against the government’s plans for substantial cuts in public pensions (AT0305201N ). These protests, which were carried out across all sectors and initiated by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB), were the largest strike actions in Austria for more than 50 years. Since the government has refused to consider ÖGB’s demands, further actions are to be expected. In view of the magnitude and rapid implementation of the pensions reform, which critics believe will lead to a deterioration in the public pensions system for all persons in employment, 62% of the Austrian population support the protest actions, according to recent surveys. This is notable in that Austria has had almost no tradition of industrial action during recent decades, due to a highly developed 'corporatist' system.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/major-industrial-action-planned-over-pensions-reform
06 maj 2003
In December 2002, a special commission established by the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) presented a report questioning the sustainability of the present level of statutory pensions (AT0301203F ). The coalition, returned to office after a general election in November 2002, adopted most of the report’s restrictive proposals aimed at making major cuts in cash benefits and presented a draft pensions reform in March 2003. After a short period of obligatory consultation which expired on 25 April, this draft was due to be accepted by the cabinet on 29 April and to be passed by parliament in June 2003.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/pensions-reform-report-provokes-controversy
22 april 2003
There are no precise data on the number of companies in the Austrian road haulage sector, with figures varying from about 5,000 to about 13,000 businesses. The same holds true for the number of employees of these companies, with estimates varying from about 55,000 to 80,000. However, these vague figures suggest that relatively small firms prevail numerically in the sector.
07 april 2003
The childcare benefit scheme (Kinderbetreuungsgeld) introduced by the government in 2001 is designed to offer parents greater freedom of choice in matters regarding childcare. It aims to provide more financial security for families with young children, regardless of the parents’ previous employment situation. All parents with childcare obligations are thus eligible for the benefit. This scheme, covering all families with children born since 1 January 2002, has replaced the former system of parental leave allowance (Karenzgeld), paid out only to employed persons as a social insurance benefit. Moreover, the new childcare benefit scheme provides slightly higher payments - at present about EUR 15 per day - and for a longer period - up to 36 months (if both parents alternately assume childcare obligations). By allowing beneficiaries to earn an additional income up to a maximum of EUR 14,600 per year, the new scheme seeks to promote the labour market participation of women with small children, and to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family obligations.
26 marts 2003
After a three-month period of negotiations with all parties in parliament, the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) decided at the end of February 2003 to continue its previous coalition government with the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ). The earlier coalition government of these two parties had resigned in September 2002 because of insurmountable conflicts between them, mainly caused by internal disputes within the FPÖ. The general elections subsequently held on 24 November 2002 saw the ÖVP emerge as the clear winner with more than 42% of the vote, whereas the FPÖ lost almost two-thirds of its 2000 vote, receiving only 10.0%. (AT0302201N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/railway-employees-threaten-strike-over-restructuring
23 marts 2003
In September 2002, after conflicts within the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) - which had come to office in February 2000 (AT0002212F ) - the ÖVP leadership decided to resign from the coalition. The main reason for the ÖVP’s resignation was internal disagreements within the FPÖ, with important representatives of the party, including its former chair, Jörg Haider, opposing measures perceived as unpopular. Opinion polls had indicated a major fall in popularity for the FPÖ. For the ÖVP, a continuation of the coalition government seemed impossible because several FPÖ ministers had resigned from office.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-labour-market/new-government-presents-policy
12 marts 2003
Austria has a 'dual system' of vocational training, providing both for training in special schools and in-company training for apprentices. For a long time, the system worked well, resulting in a relatively low youth unemployment rate, not least because companies could take on apprentices at a low cost, given their relatively low pay. In recent years, however, an acute shortage of apprenticeship places has emerged, due to intensified company 'rationalisation' measures, including significant cuts in personnel.
04 marts 2003
In early 2003, one year after revelations about illegal employment practices at several Austrian road haulage companies (AT0202203F ), the mass media and the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK) have made new allegations about other forms of illegal employment relationships in other sectors. In particular, some employers in the construction industry are accused of founding and registering 'pseudo-companies' for the sole purpose of exploiting employees and defrauding the tax authorities. Whereas the main problem related to illegal employment in Austria has hitherto been wrongly declared or undeclared employment (usually of foreign workers) - as in hotels and catering as well as road haulage - new illicit employment practices by an apparently increasing number of construction companies are now gaining in importance.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/scandal-over-illegal-employment-of-east-european-lorry-drivers
10 februar 2003
The general elections held on 24 November 2002 saw substantial gains for the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) - the larger party in the previous coalition government - which won more than 42% of the vote. The ÖVP Chancellor, Wolfgang Schüssel, has since carried out exploratory talks with all other parliamentary parties in order to build a new coalition government, which have not yet reached an outcome. At the same time, the ÖVP has developed a programme which should act as guidelines for the future government.
03 februar 2003
By international and European standards, the Austrian public pensions insurance system, which protects insured people and their surviving spouses and children against the risks of old age, invalidity and death, is widely deemed to be stable and efficient. It is based on a 'pay as you go' mechanism (Umlageverfahren) which means that the cash benefits payable to retired, disabled and widowed people are met from the taxes and contributions paid by the active working population. This 'inter-generational agreement' based on solidarity between younger with the older people has proved efficient in terms of maintaining living standards for older people and still represents more than 90% of overall pension provision in Austria. Accordingly, the share of occupational pension schemes (the 'second pillar') and of individual private life and pension insurance schemes (the 'third pillar') is still relatively low.