Autumn 1999 pay round starts
During autumn 1999, the wage and salary increases for about 1.25 million Austrian employees - about 40% of the total - are to be negotiated. Moderate increases above inflation are expected.
In an unusual move, the first collective agreement of the 1999-2000 bargaining round covers about 50,000 salaried employees in crafts and trades, excluding metalworking and the construction and timber sectors. From 1 January 2000, their minimum salaries will, on average, rise by 1.6%. The lowest full-time annual gross salary will then be ATS 161,980. Actual salaries may rise by less, since their increase is not specified in the agreement. The deal was concluded between the Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA) and 30 trades associations of the Austrian Chamber of the Economy (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ).
On 17 September 1999, the negotiating teams of the Union of Metal, Mining, and Energy Workers (Gewerkschaft Metall-Bergbau-Energie, GMBE), GPA and WKÖ met in preparation for the key bargaining round covering 160,000 wage earners in metalworking and 140,000 salaried employees in metalworking and six other industries including paper. Both sides refrained from stating clear demands. The trade unions want a pay increase in real terms, while the employers' negotiating team is under pressure to make good for last year's unexpectedly large pay rises (AT9810108N). A repeat of the "distribution option" - whereby individual companies can choose to award a lower general pay rise and distribute extra increases to designated groups of employees (AT9902132N) - is on the agenda, along with pension funds. Extra work in connection with the "millennium bug" (AT9904142N) is also to be covered. However, in recent years the stated bargaining agenda and the real agenda has had only a limited overlap (AT9810107F). Bargaining will start on 8 October and is scheduled to be concluded on 15 October. Subsequently, GPA and WKÖ will be negotiating the salaries of another 57,000 salaried employees in crafts and trades establishments in the metalworking sector (AT9811110F).
In the paper industry, GPA will this year, for the first time, team up with the Union of Chemical Workers (Gewerkschaft der Chemiearbeiter) so that wages and salaries can be negotiated simultaneously.
On 16 September 1999, negotiators for the government and the Public Service Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Öffentlicher Dienst, GÖD) met to discuss the fundamentals of pay negotiations to take place in the second half of October, covering some 500,000 employees and civil servants. GÖD has informally called for an increase exceeding inflation and for about 1,500 posts to be filled (AT9812117N).
Negotiations in commerce are also to be held in October and November. Forecasters have been stating that a more generous salary agreement than last year might be justified by the sector's financial figures (AT9811112N).