12 juli 2005
A series of elections to the regional (Länder) parliaments (Landtage) were held during 2004. On 7 March, the Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ) won - for the first time in this province - the regional elections in Salzburg, receiving 45.4% of the vote (up 13.1 percentage points from the previous election in 1999). The conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP), which had been the province’s largest party and thus in power during the whole post-war period until then, lost 0.8 percentage points and for the first time fell to the second position (with 37.9%). As a consequence, Gabi Burgstaller, the head of Salzburg’s SPÖ, became the first ever social democrat and woman to be inaugurated as the province’s governor (Landeshauptfrau). Whereas the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) lost more than the half of its 1999 vote, receiving 8.7% of the vote, the Green Party (Die Grünen, GRÜNE) increased its share of the vote from 5.4% to 8.0%.
14 februari 2005
In the course of the 2004 autumn bargaining round, on 3 December 2004 the sectoral social partners (AT0012235N ) concluded a new framework collective agreement for the information technology (IT) industry, which is the first such agreement in Austria to include provisions on a so-called further training certificate (Bildungszertifizierung) scheme. The certificate is designed to guarantee certain further training standards for most IT employees in Austria on a comparable basis. Accordingly, paragraph 23 of the new collective agreement recommends that all IT companies with a certain number of employees comply with the requirements of this certificate. 'The further training certificate is valid for the whole country’s territory. Its purpose is to record and promote both the businesses’ and the employees’ readiness to play an active role in the process of lifelong learning,' stated Karl Proyer, chief negotiator for the white-collar Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA), at a press conference in mid-January 2005. In the long run, this measure is devised both to improve the labour market chances of IT workers and to enhance the competitiveness of Austrian IT firms, due to generally better qualified employees.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/first-collective-agreement-for-information-technology-sector
03 februari 2005
Against a background of increasing unemployment levels among foreign nationals in Austria, the current government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) intends further to restrict labour immigration by workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). According to the government’s recently announced plans, the country’s overall intake of immigrant workers from outside the EEA will be near zero in 2005. Over recent years, the government’s policy line was that labour immigration should be restricted mainly with regard to less-skilled labour, whereas it aimed to attract skilled labour from outside the EEA to work in Austria within a certain quota-based framework (AT0109128N ). Now, in 2005, the government aims also to reduce the quota for so-called 'key workers' (defined as 'third-country nationals' earning at least EUR 2,100 before taxes per month).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/government-intends-to-restrict-labour-immigration
31 januari 2005
In December 2004, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (Österreichisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, WIFO) published a study on the long-term development of income distribution in Austria (/Die langfristige Entwicklung der Einkommensverteilung in Österreich/, Alois Guger and Markus Marterbauer, WIFO, 2004). The study, which was carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Social Security, Generations and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Soziale Sicherheit, Generationen und Konsumentenschutz, BMSG), examines post-war developments in terms of both functional distribution (ie the distribution of the national income between the production factors labour and capital) and personal distribution (ie income relations among individuals). In the context of a generally problematic data situation regarding income statistics, due to a variety of institutions recording and processing such data in different ways, the WIFO study aims to obviate the existing lack of data quality by simultaneously and comparatively referring to (at least the most important) different data sources. This methodological approach, which takes into account the heterogeneity of different income data, seeks to make the study more reliable in comparison with previous income studies. The main findings of the research are summarised below.
16 januari 2005
On 22 December 2004, the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) presented draft legislation on a 'household service cheque' (Dienstleistungsscheck), which it plans to introduce in autumn 2005. This scheme seeks to facilitate and promote legal 'quasi-employment' in household services, in particular with respect to childcare, care of elderly people, domestic cleaning and home maintenance. According to Martin Bartenstein, the Minister of Economy and Labour Affairs (Bundesminister für Wirtschaft und Arbeit, BMWA), the planned measure aims to increase legal activity rates in a problematic segment of the labour market marked by a high degree of illicit employment practices, and to help reconcile the work and family life of the - mostly female - workers concerned. Mr Bartenstein stated that the introduction of the cheque will enable both (quasi-)employers and paid workers to create legal 'employment' relationships and to pay social insurance contributions on a regular basis. The use of the cheque will be voluntary and its handling will be easy and unbureaucratic, the Minister announced.
06 december 2004
After 23 hours of unbroken and intense negotiations, on 4 November 2004 the sectoral social partners concluded a new collective agreement for some 119,000 blue-collar and 74,000 white-collar workers in the metalworking industry. This sector traditionally opens Austria's annual autumn bargaining round and plays a pattern-setting role in the overall bargaining process (AT0210202F ). According to the bargaining parties involved - the various branch subunits of the Chamber of the Economy (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ) on the employers’ side and the blue-collar Metalworking and Textiles Union (Gewerkschaft Metall-Textil, GMT) and white-collar Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA) on the employees’ side - the negotiations proved to be extraordinarily difficult. This was because the trade unions insisted on the introduction of a new common pay system applying to the sector’s blue- and white-collar workers without, at the same time, introducing more flexible working hours schemes, as demanded by the employers (AT0410202F ). The unions’ goal was eventually reached, albeit in exchange with a quite moderate pay increase of only 2.5% in both minimum and actual wages - and without a provision for a company-level 'distribution option' (as laid down in earlier agreements - AT0111229N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/autumn-bargaining-round-opens-against-background-of-rising-unemployment  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/autumn-bargaining-round-opens  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/new-collective-agreements-concluded-in-metalworking
22 november 2004
The most recent strike statistics from the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) - published exclusively by the Austrian Press Agency (APA) at the end of October 2004 - indicate that industrial dispute action among Austrian employees reached its highest level since the Second World War in 2003. According to the figures, 2003 saw the highest post-war number of working hours lost due to industrial action (totalling more than 10.4 million hours). In addition, more employees (some 780,000) were involved in industrial action than in any year since 1950 (when ÖGB's statistics began). On the basis of an eight-hour working day (ie the statutorily defined 'normal' working hours in Austria), this means more than 1.3 million working days lost due to industrial action in 2003. In terms of average strike duration per participant and per employee, the figures were 13.5 and 3.3 working hours lost, respectively.
21 november 2004
The EU’s European employment strategy  was revised in 2003 (EU0308205F ), following demands for a more results-oriented strategy contributing successfully to the targets for more and better jobs and an inclusive labour market set at the Lisbon European Council in 2000 (EU0004241F ). To support the three objectives of full employment, quality and productivity at work and cohesion and an inclusive labour market, the current employment guidelines  identify 10 priorities ('commandments'), including one on 'promoting adaptability of workers and firms to change'. This identifies work organisation (alongside skills, lifelong learning and career development, gender equality, health and safety at work, flexibility and security, inclusion and access to the labour market, work-life balance, social dialogue and worker involvement, diversity and non-discrimination, and overall work performance) as an element in improved quality at work, which should be pursued through a concerted effort between all actors and particularly through social dialogue.  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/2003-employment-guidelines-and-recommendations-adopted  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-social-policies/lisbon-council-agrees-employment-targets  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/guidelines_en.htm
07 november 2004
On 12 October 2004, during ongoing negotiations over new staff 'service regulations' (ie terms and conditions of employment) between the management of Austria’s largest banking institute, Bank Austria-Creditanstalt (BA-CA), and its central works council, the former unexpectedly announced its immediate withdrawal from the savings banks employers' association and its simultaneous joining of the commercial banks association. According to BA-CA management, this move to another employers' association means a change of service regulations for its workforce, which should now follow the collective agreement for the commercial banks subsector. The chief executive of BA-CA, Erich Hampel, stated that from 13 October 2004 all 11,000 of the company's employees were covered by the commercial banks collective agreement and that subsector’s uniform service regulations, and that this move was irreversible.
26 oktober 2004
In principle, collective bargaining in Austria, which is confined to the private sector, takes place at multi-employer sectoral or industry level. The public sector is excluded from formal bargaining, but negotiations between public sector trade unions and government representatives are likewise conducted, with parliament determining the terms of employment (AT9912207F ). Private sector collective bargaining results in more than 400 separate collective agreements annually, covering about 98% of all private sector employees. Only a few dozen of the agreements cover a larger number of employees in broadly defined sectors or industries, while the majority are narrow subsectoral agreements or separate agreements on specific issues, some of them concluded at federal state (Land) level only. Despite the large number of agreements concluded annually, the wage bargaining system is strongly coordinated across the economy, primarily based on the pattern-setting role played by the metalworking industry in the overall bargaining process (AT0210202F ). This means that the metalworking collective agreement sets the pace for subsequent negotiations in other bargaining units in the course of the annual autumn bargaining round (usually starting in October).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/structures-and-patterns-in-collective-bargaining-reviewed  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/autumn-bargaining-round-opens-against-background-of-rising-unemployment