Austria: Representativeness of the European social partner organisations – Personal services sector

  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 20 Eanáir 2010



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The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the personal services sector in Austria. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

Introduction

The personal services sector in Austria consists of more than 8,000 establishments and self-employed people, but does not employ more than 20,000- 25,000 employees. The relatively high number of companies/establishments results from a high incidence of self-employed persons in the sector. In contrast to the standard pattern in Austria’s industrial relations, compulsory membership of the sector’s employers of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) does not translate into a collective bargaining coverage rate of 100%, since the former, regionally differentiated agreements in the beauty treatment segment were terminated a few years ago for reasons that are unclear. However, according to the vida trade union, negotiations to fully cover the sector again are underway.

1. Sectoral properties

  1995 2006**
Number of employers n.a. 8,151***
Aggregate employment* n.a. 29,679****
Male employment* n.a. n.a.
Female employment* n.a. n.a.
Aggregate employees n.a. 22,535****
Male employees n.a. n.a.
Female employees n.a. n.a.
Aggregate sectoral employment as a % of total employment in the economy n.a. 0.87****
Aggregate sectoral employees as a % of the total number of employees in the economy n.a. 0.72****

* employees plus self-employed persons and agency workers

** or most recent data

*** Source: Statistik Austria; figure refers to establishments rather than employers and 2001

**** Source: Statistik Austria; figure refers to 2001

2. The sector’s trade unions and employer associations

This section includes the following trade unions and employer associations:

1. trade unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining (In line with the conceptual remarks outlined in the accompanying briefing note, we understand sector-related collective bargaining as any kind of collective bargaining within the sector, i.e. single-employer bargaining as well as multi-employer bargaining. For the definition of single- and multi-employer bargaining, see 4.2)

2. trade unions which are a member of the sector-related European Union Federation (i.e. UNI-EUROPA – Hair and Beauty)

3. employer associations which are a party to sector-related collective bargaining

4. employer associations (business associations) which are a member of the sector-related European Business Federation (i.e. COIFFURE EU)

2a Data on the trade unions

The vida trade union and the Union of Salaried Employees, Graphical Workers and Journalists (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, Druck, Journalismus, Papier, GPA-DJP) are both sector-related trade unions.

2a.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

Membership of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) and its affiliates (including vida and GPA-DJP) is voluntary.

2a.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. white-collar workers, private-sector workers, personal services employees, etc.)

  • Vida: The vida trade union, which was founded in December 2006 as a result of the merger of three smaller unions, comprises three sections: The transport section organises and represents employees of all transport systems, i.e. railways, road transport, water transport and air traffic. The social, personal and health services section represents (blue-collar) employees in the areas of nursing, medical activities, social services and health. The third, private services, section organises blue-collar employees in occupations related to tourism, commerce, cleaning and maintenance, as well as private security services.
  • GPA-DJP: membership domain includes all the country’s private-sector white-collar workers (i.e. about 1.3 million employees), retirees, apprentices and unemployed. It also organises and represents both blue- and white-collar workers in the printing and paper-processing industries. Apart from this, it represents journalists and formally self-employed people (who do not employ other people) who are economically dependent on one (main) client and whose working situation largely resembles that of salaried employees.

2a.3 Number of union members (i.e. the total number of members of the union as a whole)

  • Vida: 155,712 (source: union representative)
  • GPA-DJP: 249,500 (May 2008, source: union representative)

2a.4 Number of union members in the sector

  • Vida: About 2,200 (Source: estimate of a union representative and own calculations)
  • GPA-DJP: n.a.

2a.5 Female union members as a percentage of total union membership

  • Vida: 33% (estimate of a union representative)
  • GPA-DJP: 43.2% (May 2008; source: union representative)

2a.6 Domain density: total number of members of the union in relation to the number of potential members as demarcated by the union domain (see 2a.2)

  • Vida: n.a.
  • GPA-DJP: Around 20% (own calculations)

2a.7 Sectoral density: total number of members of the union in the sector in relation to the number of employees in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

  • Vida: About 10% (estimate of a union representative)
  • GPA-DJP: n.a.

2a.8 Sectoral domain density: total number of members of the union in the sector in relation to the number of employees which work in that part of the sector as covered by the union domain

  • Vida: About 10% (estimate of a union representative)
  • GPA-DJP: n.a.

2a.9 Does the union conclude collective agreements?

  • Vida: Yes
  • GPA-DJP: Yes

2a.10 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including cross-sectoral associations)

  • Vida: ÖGB (national), European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions (EFFAT), UNI Europa at European level; International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Federations (IUF) at international level.
  • GPA-DJP: ÖGB (national), UNI Europa, Eurocadres, European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Union (EFFAT), Chemical and Energy Workers’ Federation (EMCEF) and the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) at European level.

2b Data on the employer associations

In this section, the Federal Association of Hairdressers (Bundesinnung der Friseure, BIF) and the Federal Association of Beauty Treatment Companies (Bundesinnung der Fusspfleger, Kosmetiker und Masseure, BIFKM), which are subunits of the Federal Branch of Trade and Crafts (Bundessparte Gewerbe und Handwerk, BSGH) within the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ), are taken into consideration as the only relevant employer organisations in the sector.

2b.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

  • Membership of both the BIF and the BIFKM is mandatory for all companies which fall within the respective associations’ domain.

2b.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. SMEs, small-scale crafts/industry, personal services enterprises, etc.)

  • BIF: Membership domain comprises all companies and self-employed people operating in hairdressing and manufacture of wigs
  • BIFKM: Organises all companies and self-employed people operating in beauty treatment (i.e. pedicure, manicure, cosmetics, medical and non-medical massage, tattooing and piercing etc.)

2b.3 Number of member companies (i.e. the total number of members of the association as a whole)

  • BIF: 6,500, including many self-employed people without employees (source: administrative data of the BIF)
  • BIFKM: 9,058, including many self-employed people without employees (source: administrative data of the BIFKM)

2b.4 Number of member companies in the sector

  • BIF: Around 6,000, including many self-employed people without employees (source: own estimate based on BIF administrative data)
  • BIFKM: 2,341, including many self-employed people without employees (source: BIFKM administrative data)

2b.5 Number of employees working in member companies (i.e. the total number of the association as a whole)

  • BIF: 18,997 (source: BIF administrative data)
  • BIFKM: 24,000 (source: BIFKM administrative data)

2b.6 Number of employees working in member companies in the sector

  • BIF: Around 16,000 (own estimate based on BIF administrative data)
  • BIFKM: 7,000 (source: BIFKM administrative data)

2b.7 Domain density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in relation to the number of potential member companies as demarcated by the association’s domain (see 2b.2)

  • BIF: 100% (due to compulsory membership)
  • BIFKM: 100% (due to compulsory membership)

2b.8 Sectoral density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in the sector in relation to the number of companies in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

  • BIF: About 75% (source: own calculations based on administrative data)
  • BIFKM: about 25% (source: own calculations based on administrative data)

2b.9 Sectoral domain density in terms of companies: total number of member companies of the association in the sector in relation to the number of companies which operate in that part of the sector as covered by the association’s domain

  • BIF: 100% (due to compulsory membership)
  • BIFKM: 100% (due to compulsory membership)

2b.10 Domain density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in relation to the number of employees working in potential member companies, as demarcated by the association’s domain (see 2b.2)

  • BIF: 100% (due to compulsory membership)
  • BIFKM: 100% (due to compulsory membership)

2b.11 Sectoral density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in the sector in relation to the number of employees in the sector, as demarcated by the NACE definition

  • BIF: About 70% (own calculations based on administrative data)
  • BIFKM: About 30% (own calculations based on administrative data)

2b.12 Sectoral domain density in terms of employees represented: total number of employees working in the association’s member companies in the sector in relation to the number of employees working in companies which operate in that part of the sector as covered by the association’s domain

  • BIF: 100% (due to compulsory membership)
  • BIFKM: 100% (due to compulsory membership)

2b.13 Does the employer association conclude collective agreements?

  • BIF: Yes
  • BIFKM: Yes, but no valid agreement currently in force

2b.14 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including the cross-sectoral associations).

  • BIF: WKÖ (national), Coiffure EU (European)
  • BIFKM: WKÖ (national)

3. Inter-associational relationships

3.1. Please list all trade unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

Vida, GPA-DJP

3.2. Do rivalries and competition exist among the trade unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

No.

3.3. If yes, are certain trade unions excluded from these rights?

n/a

3.4. Same question for employer associations as 3.1.

No domain overlaps. However, companies operating in both hairdressing and beauty treatment may be members of both BIF and BIFKM.

3.5. Same question for employer associations as 3.2.

No.

3.6. Same question for employer associations as 3.3.

n.a.

3.7. Are there large companies or employer associations which refuse to recognise the trade unions and refuse to enter collective bargaining?

This is not clear. Currently, the blue-collar workers of the beauty treatment segment of the economy are not covered by any collective agreement. Formerly, this area was covered by two separate, regionally differentiated agreements, but these agreements were cancelled. However, it has remained unclear which party actually terminated these agreements. According to the vida trade union, negotiations are currently underway to secure an agreement again.

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Estimate the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage (i.e. the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector).

70% (formerly 100%; negotiations to fully cover the sector again are underway)

4.2. Estimate the relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered. (Multi-employer bargaining is defined as being conducted by an employer association on behalf of the employer side. In the case of single-employer bargaining, it is the company or its subunit(s) which is the party to the agreement. This includes the cases where two or more companies jointly negotiate an agreement.)

Single-employer agreements do not exist in the sector. Therefore the two existing multi-employer agreements in the sector cover 100% of all employees covered.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

No.

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

n.a.

4.3. List all sector-related multi-employer wage agreements* valid in 2006 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered.

* Only wage agreements which are (re)negotiated on a reiterated basis.

Sector-related multi employer wage agreements
Bargaining parties Purview of the sector-related multi-employer wage agreements
  Sectoral Type of employees Territorial
Vida (employee representation) and BIF (employer association) Hairdressers and manufacturers of wigs Blue-collar employees and non-commercial apprentices (covers about 15,000 employees in the sector) Whole national territory
GPA-DJP (employee representation) and around 35 employer associations within the WKÖ (including the BIF and the BIFKM) A number of small subsectors in the trade and crafts sector, in the personal services sector and in the IT and consulting sector White-collar employees and commercial apprentices (covers only a few hundreds of employees in the sector) Whole national territory

4.4. List the sector’s four most important collective agreements (single-employer or multi-employer agreements) valid in 2006 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered. Importance is measured in terms of employees covered.

Four most important agreements in terms of employees covered
Bargaining parties Purview of the agreements
  Sectoral Type of employees Territorial
See the two agreements above      
       
       
       

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and trade unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

The vida trade union, the BIF and the BIFKM are usually consulted by the authorities, in particular in the context of examination of new legislation.

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist? If yes, please indicate their domain of activity (for instance, health and safety, equal opportunities, labour market, social security and pensions etc.), their origin (agreement/statutory) and the interest organisations having representatives in them:

Sector-specific public policies*
Name of the body and scope of activity Bipartite/tripartite Origin: agreement/statutory Trade unions having representatives (reps) Employer associations having reps.
         
         

* Sector-specific policies specifically target and affect the sector under consideration.

No.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6.1. In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

In Austria, according to §4 of the Labour Constitution Act (Arbeitsverfassungsgesetz, ArbVG), unions possess the capacity to conclude collective agreements only if they are independent of the opposing side and if the Federal Arbitration Board (Bundeseinigungsamt), a joint body established within the Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour Affairs (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Arbeit, BMWA), has granted them recognition as possessing it. This is only possible if the unions are representative, operating above company level and in a position to wield effective bargaining power. In formal terms, only the ÖGB as the peak union organisation meets all these criteria. Consequently, it was given recognition as possessing the collective bargaining capacity by the Federal Arbitration Board on 14 September 1947. According to the ÖGB’s statutes, the ÖGB member unions, such as vida and GPA-DJP, are not independent associations but subunits of the ÖGB itself. This means that only the ÖGB is authorised to conclude collective agreements. In practice, however, the member unions possess greater autonomy than that laid down in the ÖGB’s statutes, so that, for instance, collective agreements at sectoral and branch level are negotiated by the member unions and signed by them on behalf of the ÖGB.

6.2. In the case of the trade unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

  • In Austria, trade union consultation is based on a practice of permanent, but informal social partner involvement rather than legal regulations.

6.3. Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for trade union representativeness? If yes, please report the most recent electoral outcome for the sector.

No.

6.4. Same question for employer associations as 6.1.

Collective agreements may be concluded only by bodies directly invested with that capacity by the ArbVG, or granted recognition as possessing it in accordance with a procedure regulated by the Act (see above). As a representative body established by statute law for which membership is obligatory the WKÖ and its various subunits are automatically invested with the capacity to conclude collective agreements. Individual employers may conclude collective agreements only by way of exception in the case of legal persons governed by public law, major associations (such as political parties) or specifically identified employers.

6.5. Same question for employer associations as 6.2.

  • In Austria, employer consultation is based on a practice of permanent, but informal social partner involvement rather than legal regulations.

6.6. Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations? If yes, please report the most recent outcome for the sector.

No.

7. Commentary

Industrial relations in the personal services sector largely correspond to the standard pattern in Austria’s overall economy. This holds true in particular for the WKÖ’s (specifically its subunits) encompassing membership domain in the sector. However, in contrast to the standard pattern in Austria’s industrial relations, obligatory membership of the sector’s employers of the BIF and the BIFKM does not translate into a collective bargaining coverage rate of 100%. This is because the former, regionally differentiated collective agreements covering the blue-collar workers of the sector’s beauty treatment segment were cancelled a few years ago.

The unionisation rate in the personal services sector is relatively low, at around only 10%. In line with this, pay and working conditions (particularly in terms of working hours, working time schedules, further training opportunities etc.) are poor.

There are neither jurisdictional disputes nor recognition problems in the sector.

Georg Adam, Department of Industrial Sociology, University of Vienna

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