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
04 oktober 2004
On 8 September 2004, the president of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB), Fritz Verzetnitsch, announced the definite failure of a union merger initiative involving four ÖGB affiliates. This announcement did not come as a surprise, since long-standing disagreements between the unions concerned have flared up during recent months (AT0406201N ).  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/plans-for-major-union-merger-in-danger-of-failure
26 september 2004
Spring 2003 saw a series of strikes and protest actions directed against the government’s plans to introduce a far-reaching state pensions reform (AT0306201N ), which was eventually endorsed by parliament on 11 June 2003, though in a slightly modified form compared with the original draft. Contrary to Austria’s tradition of intense social partner involvement in important social policy matters, a social partners' joint initiative to find an alternative to the government’s reform proposals was not taken up by the latter (AT0305202F ). However, the strike actions mainly organised by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, ÖGB) - which were the most far-reaching such protests Austria has experienced since the Second World War, with hundreds of thousands of employees participating (AT0401203F ) - did have an impact: although the pensions reform passed by parliament entails substantial welfare cuts for future beneficiaries, organised labour managed to achieve some mitigation of the original draft, in particular an overall ceiling of 10% on the pension losses resulting from the reform. Moreover, in an effort to forestall further protest actions, the coalition government of the conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei, ÖVP) and the populist Freedom Party (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) announced that the various pension systems for different occupational groups would be harmonised by the end of 2003, as demanded by the trade unions.  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/further-strikes-as-pensions-talks-fail  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/government-challenges-social-partnership  www.eurofound.europa.eu/ef/observatories/eurwork/articles/2003-annual-review-for-austria
05 september 2004
During summer 2004, the Austrian media have alleged a series of cases of large-scale 'social fraud' committed by companies in various sectors. The most recent and prominent such cases refer to a large German-based food retailer that runs hundreds of stores in Austria and a road haulage company headquartered in Carinthia.