05 januari 2004
The private social and health service sector is a growing segment of the Austrian labour market. However, it is characterised by precarious and inconsistent employment conditions, due to the vast number of different organisations and establishments which supply services for groups such as people facing underprivilege and discrimination, people with disabilities and old people. Aside from public institutions such as regional (Länder) governments and communities, there are about 2,300 small-sized and about 20 large private-law establishments providing social and health services, including child and youth welfare, services for people with disabilities, geriatric nursing, care for refugees and foreigners etc.
16 december 2003
Workers at Austrian Federal Railways (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB) went on strike on 4 November 2003 and from 12 to 14 November 2003 (including a continuous period of 66 hours). These strikes, which followed a two-week overtime ban which started in mid-October, constituted the largest-scale industrial action at the company since 1945.
09 december 2003
After intense negotiations between the social partners over recent months, on 25 November 2003 they agreed to propose a tightening of the 'provisions of reasonableness' (Zumutbarkeitsbestimmungen) which govern the conditions under which unemployed people may refuse a job offered by the Labour Market Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) without losing their entitlement to unemployment benefits (AT0303202F ). The social partners’ agreement provides that the period during which unemployed people may refuse to take up a job unrelated to their previous occupation (known as the Berufsschutz) should be reduced to the first 100 days of unemployment. As a compensation, a 'pay guarantee' (Entgeltschutz) should be introduced, whereby, for a period of 120 days from the first day of unemployment, unemployed people may refuse a job offered if the pay is below of 80% of the their previous earnings liable to unemployment insurance contributions (Bemessungsgrundlage). After this 120-day period, the minimum would be reduced to 75%.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/new-government-calls-for-eur-1000-monthly-minimum-wage
17 november 2003
The European Union'sEuropean employment strategy  (EES) has been in operation since 1997 (EU9711168F ). The strategy enables the coordination of national employment policies at EU level and one of its main components has been the adoption (on the basis of a proposal from theEuropean Commission) by theEuropean Council of a set of annual Employment Guidelines setting out common priorities for Member States' employment policies. The Member States then draw up annual National Action Plans (NAPs) which describe how these Guidelines are being put into practice nationally.  http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/employment_strategy/index_en.htm  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/employment-summit-agrees-limited-package-of-measures-to-combat-unemployment
10 november 2003
In summer 2001, Austria’s coalition government of the conservative People’s Party ( Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party ( Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) amended the General Social Insurance Act ( Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, ASVG) in order to reform the representational structure of the Association of Social Security Providers ( Hauptverband der Sozialversicherungsträger, HSV) ( AT0108225N ). HSV, which is based on the principle of 'self government' (Selbstverwaltung), is the central institution administering all aspects of Austria’s social insurance system. In accordance with this principle, HSV's main governing bodies are composed of representatives of the social partner organisations.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/gb-mobilises-members-against-social-security-reforms
28 oktober 2003
In the long run, the competitiveness of a national economy – like that of Austria – depends not only on company-related factors such as innovativeness, quality of products and marketing, but also on 'macro' criteria such as qualification of the workforce, industrial relations and taxation. In the short run, however, currency rate variations in combination with changes in labour costs and productivity are the most decisive factors for competitiveness, in particular as regards companies in the sectors exposed to international competition. Since Austria joined the third stage of EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999, currency rate variations have been relevant only for its trading relations with partners from outside the euro-zone. In contrast, the other main competitiveness criteria - ie labour costs and productivity- have gained in importance.
Thematic feature - works councils and other workplace employee representation and participation structures
21 oktober 2003
The issue of works councils and similar workplace employee representation and participation structures is topical at present, with the EU Member States required to implement the recent Directive (2002/14/EC)  establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community (EU0204207F ) by March 2005 (though countries which currently have no 'general, permanent and statutory' system of information and consultation or employee representation may phase in the Directive's application to smaller firms up until 2008). The Directive applies to undertakings with at least 50 employees or establishments with at least 20 employees (the choice is left to the Member States). It provides employees with the following rights to information and consultation:  http://europa.eu.int/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=EN&numdoc=32002L0014&model=guichett  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined/final-approval-given-to-consultation-directive
07 oktober 2003
In August 2003, Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) announced that the government is willing to introduce a right to part-time work for parents with children of pre-school age. By introducing such a part-time scheme, the government's stated aim is to facilitate the reconciliation of work and family obligations, in particular for mothers of small children. Under the proposal, all parents with children of pre-school age (ie younger than seven years) would be entitled to switch form full-time to part-time employment, if they work for companies employing a certain minimum number of workers. Interestingly, by launching this initiative, the ÖVP has taken up a long-term demand of the trade unions and the opposition Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs, SPÖ), which had also been raised in a 1997 'women’s referendum initiative' (Frauenvolksbegehren), signed by about 645,000 people.
22 september 2003
After a period of a 10 years without any serious industrial action, Austrian Airlines (AUA), Austria’s national air carrier, was hit by a pilots' strike of several hours over 21 and 22 August 2003. As a consequence, a few scheduled flights had to be cancelled at short notice on these days. The industrial action resulted from a long-running conflict between AUA management and flight staff over ongoing restructuring of the company, including cuts in the workforce and the planned introduction of a new, less favourable payment scheme. In May 2003, some 51 of AUA’s 480 pilots were given notice of termination of contract, although some of them were subsequently rehired under less favourable part-time employment conditions. The management’s plan is to reduce the company’s air-traffic costs by 35% over the period up to 2008, in order to maintain its competitiveness. From the management’s point of view, this requires significant reductions in pay, in particular for newly employed pilots, as well as a new working time scheme for all flight staff in order to shorten their stop-overs at destinations (in particular in the case of long-distance destinations). Moreover, management aims to replace the present scheme whereby pilots receive an automatic annual pay increase of 2.5% with a less costly biannual scheme. The flight staff's representatives have, however, strongly opposed such cost-reduction measures by arguing that merely reducing pay does not represent sustainable restructuring.
10 september 2003
The EU Directive establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (Directive 2000/78/EC ) was adopted in November 2000 (EU0102295F ). The Directive seeks to lay down a general framework for combating discrimination, as regards employment and occupation, on the grounds of: religion or belief; disability; age; and sexual orientation. It is to be implemented by the EU Member States by 2 December 2003 (with a possible later deadline for the provisions on age and disability discrimination, if Member States see this as necessary).  http://europa.eu.int/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexapi!prod!CELEXnumdoc&lg=en&numdoc=32000L0078&model=guichett  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/undefined-social-policies/new-framework-equal-treatment-directive-examined