07 July 2003
Over recent years, the Minister of Economy and Labour Affairs, Martin Bartenstein, has made several unsuccessful attempts to liberalise further the current regulations on shop opening hours, which were most recently amended in 1997 but are still seen as relatively restrictive (AT0101239N ). Any such extension of opening hours and working time was opposed by both the social partners and the political parties in parliament, except the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) (AT0107221N ). However, in spring 2003, the coalition government of the ÖVP and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) reached agreement on further deregulation of the shop opening legislation.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/new-controversy-over-shop-opening-hours  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/negotiations-deadlocked-over-more-flexible-shop-opening-hours
23 June 2003
On 8 May 2003, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled (in case C-171/01  /Wählergruppe Gemeinsam Zajedno v Birlikte Alternative und Grüne GewerkschafterInnen/UG/) that the Republic of Austria must allow employees of Turkish nationality to be eligible to stand as candidates for election to the general assembly of the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK). The judgment resulted from a case referred by the Austrian Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof, VfGH) to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling in March 2001. The VfGH - Austria's highest court for matters including elections to statutory representative bodies in the industrial relations field, such as the Chamber of Labour - had referred the matter to the ECJ since the former's members had been undecided as to whether Community law was in conflict with the Austrian legislation which excludes workers who are citizens of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) from eligibility to stand for election as officers in the Chamber of Labour (AT9802168N ).  http://europa.eu.int/jurisp/cgi-bin/gettext.pl?lang=en&num=79969491C19010171&doc=T&ouvert=T&seance=ARRET  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/controversy-surrounds-eligibility-of-foreigners-to-stand-as-worker-representatives
10 June 2003
Since the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) resumed office in February 2003, Austria’s public debate has been dominated by the government’s plans for a fundamental reform of the public pensions system. This reform is designed to reduce considerably future expenditure on pension benefits, especially for (younger) employees in the private sector (AT0305201N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/major-industrial-action-planned-over-pensions-reform
19 May 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 May 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 March 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 March 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 March 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.