Trade union membership declines

In 1998, membership of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) fell by 1.2%. The decrease was less than in the previous year, and was most notable among men and private sector blue-collar workers.

At the end of 1998, membership of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) stood at 1,480,016, or 17,568 less than at the end of 1997. This is a reduction of 1.2%. The number of women members decreased by 0.7% to 471,091, while the number of men fell by 1.4% to 1,008,925. The share of women among ÖGB members thus climbed to 31.8%, the highest since 1945. The number of young people (below the age of 22) and apprentices increased by 4.2% to 51,972, after having fallen below 50,000 in 1997. The number of (white-collar) salary earners in membership dropped by 1.0%, compared with 4.2% in 1997. In the public sector (including the railways and posts/telecommunications) membership declined by 2,228 or 0.4% to 588,269 while the number of (blue-collar) wage earners in the private sector declined by 12,038 or 2.0% to 577,501 following a loss of 2.9% in 1997.

Of the 14 member trade unions, only two recorded increases, the Civil Service Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Öffentlicher Dienst, GÖD) - ÖGB's second-largest affiliate - by 1,448 or 0.6%, and the small Arts, Media, and Free Professions Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Kunst, Medien, freie Berufe, KMfB). by 233 or 1.5%. The sharpest reduction was that suffered by the Textiles, Garments, and Leather Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Textil, Bekleidung, Leder), which lost 8.9%. Other small trade unions covering printing, foodstuffs, and chemicals lost between 5.0% and 3.2% of their members. The greatest numerical loss - 4,851 or 2.8% - was suffered by the Construction and Timber Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Bau-Holz, GBH). The largest trade unions either grew, like GÖD, or shrank only moderately - eg the Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA) lost 1.2% (3,535) to stand at 298,044, the Metal, Mining, and Energy Trade Union (Gewerkschaft Metall-Bergbau-Energie, GMBE) lost 0.2%, and the Union of Local Authority Employees (Gewerkschaft der Gemeindebediensteten, GdG) 0.3%.

The slower decline in union membership is being credited to 1998's growth in employment and to active recruitment by the unions.

Membership fees collected amounted to ATS 2.4 billion, 0.4% more than in 1997. Other income was ATS 174 million, down from ATS 245 million in 1997. In 1998, expenditure exceeded income by ATS 24 million. There is a chance that the budget will break even in 1999, if membership does not drop further.

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