Mixed fortunes in transport disputes

June and July 1999 saw the resolution of a dispute over the pay of Austrian lorry drivers, while a number of conflicts in Austrian-owned airlines continued to simmer.

Early summer 1999 had seen a number of disputes breaking out in the transport sector, with commentators believing that Austria potentially faced a summer of disruption on the roads and in the air (AT9906150F). This had failed to materialise by late July.

The motorway blockade threatened by lorry drivers for 26 June 1999 was "postponed" in favour of further negotiations on 28 June. A few days later, on 1 July 1999, the Commerce, Transport and Traffic Workers' Union (Gewerkschaft Handel, Transport, Verkehr, HTV) and employers organised in the Austrian Chamber of the Economy (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ) settled for a wage increase for lorry drivers of ATS 1.50 per hour. For the period of March to May 1999, when the dispute was underway, drivers will receive a one-off payment of ATS 1,200 gross. The new agreement expires at the end of February 2000.

On 8 July 1999, the supreme Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof, VfGH) ruled against a complaint by the works council representing 800 flight staff at Lauda Air, a subsidiary of Austrian Airlines (AUA). In a long running dispute with management over a new collective agreement, the works council had appealed to the Court to overthrow the exemption that airlines enjoy from the Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz, AZG). It is unclear whether and when negotiations between the works council and management will be resumed. They had been suspended since autumn 1998 while waiting for the court ruling. The works council has indicated that it may wait for an EU Directive extending the 1993 working time Directive to sectors and activities not previously covered (EU9906178F), which is expected to be adopted in autumn 1999 and which might be transposed into Austrian law in 2000.

The separate but interdependent wage negotiations for flight staff at AUA and another of its subsidiaries, Tyrolean Airways, continue. It is unclear if and when agreements will be reached.

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