15 Feabhra 2004
Estimates released by the Association of Social Security Providers (Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger, HSV) at the end of January 2004 indicate a small growth in the average amount of sickness absence among Austrian employees in 2003. According to these preliminary data, the average number of days of sickness absence from work per employee stood at between 13.0 and 13.1 in 2003, up from an average of 12.9 days in 2002. Similarly, the average duration of sickness absence per case increased slightly, from 12.2 in 2002 to 12.3 days in 2003. Moreover, the total of days of sick leave grew from 36.4 million in 2002 to an estimated 36.7 million in 2003. However, this corresponded approximately to the increase in the total number of employees over this period. These figures refer to all employees in Austria except for railway employees and career public servants (Beamte), thus covering about 2.8 million workers.
27 Eanáir 2004
In November 2003, the EIRO national centres in each EU Member State (plus Norway), were asked, in response to a questionnaire, to give a brief overview of: the procedures and costs involved in collective redundancies - ie the dismissal of a number of employees for economic/organisational reasons (rather than reasons related to the individuals concerned); the levels of, and reasons for, redundancies over recent years; and current debate on the issue. The Austrian responses are set out below (along with the questions asked).
25 Eanáir 2004
The state public holding company,Österreichische Industrieholding AG (ÖIAG), was set up by law as a holding concern to administer and manage the companies completely or partially owned by the state. In 1993, however, the operational relationship between ÖIAG and its (still) state-owned subsidiaries was dissolved by means of substantial restructuring measures. Since then, ÖIAG's statutory role has been to sell off (ie privatise) its state shares in companies. Thus, this institution changed from an operating concern holding a set of shares in (partially) state-owned companies to an executive privatisation agency which is mainly obliged to carry out the privatisation of all these firms on behalf of the government. In this way, most of the (former) state-owned industries have now been fully or partially privatised.
05 Eanáir 2004
The private social and health service sector is a growing segment of the Austrian labour market. However, it is characterised by precarious and inconsistent employment conditions, due to the vast number of different organisations and establishments which supply services for groups such as people facing underprivilege and discrimination, people with disabilities and old people. Aside from public institutions such as regional (Länder) governments and communities, there are about 2,300 small-sized and about 20 large private-law establishments providing social and health services, including child and youth welfare, services for people with disabilities, geriatric nursing, care for refugees and foreigners etc.
16 Nollaig 2003
Workers at Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB) went on strike on 4 November 2003 and from 12 to 14 November 2003 (including a continuous period of 66 hours). These strikes, which followed a two-week overtime ban which started in mid-October, constituted the largest-scale industrial action at the company since 1945.
09 Nollaig 2003
After intense negotiations between the social partners over recent months, on 25 November 2003 they agreed to propose a tightening of the 'provisions of reasonableness' (Zumutbarkeitsbestimmungen) which govern the conditions under which unemployed people may refuse a job offered by the Labour Market Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) without losing their entitlement to unemployment benefits (AT0303202F ). The social partners’ agreement provides that the period during which unemployed people may refuse to take up a job unrelated to their previous occupation (known as the Berufsschutz) should be reduced to the first 100 days of unemployment. As a compensation, a 'pay guarantee' (Entgeltschutz) should be introduced, whereby, for a period of 120 days from the first day of unemployment, unemployed people may refuse a job offered if the pay is below of 80% of the their previous earnings liable to unemployment insurance contributions (Bemessungsgrundlage). After this 120-day period, the minimum would be reduced to 75%.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/new-government-calls-for-eur-1000-monthly-minimum-wage
17 Samhain 2003
The European Union'sEuropean employment strategy  (EES) has been in operation since 1997 (EU9711168F ). The strategy enables the coordination of national employment policies at EU level and one of its main components has been the adoption (on the basis of a proposal from theEuropean Commission) by theEuropean Council of a set of annual Employment Guidelines setting out common priorities for Member States' employment policies. The Member States then draw up annual National Action Plans (NAPs) which describe how these Guidelines are being put into practice nationally.  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/employment-summit-agrees-limited-package-of-measures-to-combat-unemployment
10 Samhain 2003
In summer 2001, Austria’s coalition government of the conservative People’s Party ( Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party ( Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) amended the General Social Insurance Act ( Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, ASVG) in order to reform the representational structure of the Association of Social Security Providers ( Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger, HSV) ( AT0108225N ). HSV, which is based on the principle of 'self government' (Selbstverwaltung), is the central institution administering all aspects of Austria’s social insurance system. In accordance with this principle, HSV's main governing bodies are composed of representatives of the social partner organisations.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/gb-mobilises-members-against-social-security-reforms
28 Deireadh Fómhair 2003
In the long run, the competitiveness of a national economy – like that of Austria – depends not only on company-related factors such as innovativeness, quality of products and marketing, but also on 'macro' criteria such as qualification of the workforce, industrial relations and taxation. In the short run, however, currency rate variations in combination with changes in labour costs and productivity are the most decisive factors for competitiveness, in particular as regards companies in the sectors exposed to international competition. Since Austria joined the third stage of EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999, currency rate variations have been relevant only for its trading relations with partners from outside the euro-zone. In contrast, the other main competitiveness criteria - ie labour costs and productivity- have gained in importance.
Thematic feature - works councils and other workplace employee representation and participation structures
21 Deireadh Fómhair 2003
The issue of works councils and similar workplace employee representation and participation structures is topical at present, with the EU Member States required to implement the recent Directive (2002/14/EC)  establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community (EU0204207F ) by March 2005 (though countries which currently have no 'general, permanent and statutory' system of information and consultation or employee representation may phase in the Directive's application to smaller firms up until 2008). The Directive applies to undertakings with at least 50 employees or establishments with at least 20 employees (the choice is left to the Member States). It provides employees with the following rights to information and consultation:  http://europa.eu.int/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=EN&numdoc=32002L0014&model=guichett  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/final-approval-given-to-consultation-directive