- 02 Dec 2009
Austria: New basic social security cover postponed till 2010
In the summer of 2009, Austria’s current coalition government announced a delayed introduction of a ‘needs-oriented basic cover’ scheme for September 2010. Moreover, it agreed that a minimum gross income of €772.40, which will be revaluated annually, will be payable on behalf of impoverished people only 12 instead of the initially planned 14 times a year. This downgrading of the scheme has unleashed harsh criticism from trade unions and social welfare organisations.
- 20 Nov 2009
Austria: New liability rules to tackle ‘social fraud’ in construction
In September 2009, new liability regulations came into effect in Austria’s construction industry. Accordingly, construction companies that are subcontracting work to other companies are now liable for the subcontractors’ social insurance payment duties. The new legislation aims to encourage companies to use only credible subcontractors, thus preventing the practice of ‘social fraud’. The social partners, who were involved in the drafting procedure, appear to be highly satisfied with the new regulations.
- 22 Sep 2009
Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – Austria
The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in Austria. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.
- 18 Sep 2009
Austria – Greening the European Economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners
The Austrian government and the major social partner organisations agree that the country’s environmental technology industry is the most promising sector to secure environmentally sustainable economic growth. Therefore the government has launched several initiatives to stimulate this industry branch over the recent years. Since the social partners primarily deal with ‘core’ industrial relations issues rather than ‘green’ issues, their actual role in shaping a future ‘green economy‘ has remained unclear.
- 15 Sep 2009
Austria: Flexicurity and industrial relations
Austria records an extensive ‘flexicurity’ approach with high social partner participation, whereby flexicurity measures are introduced by national legislation rather than collective agreements. This is because collective agreements in Austria primarily deal with ‘quantitative’ issues, such as remuneration and working time. Accordingly, the social partners’ influence in regard of flexicurity policies is mainly manifested in their strong involvement in both the drafting and implementation of pertinent legislation.
- 31 Aug 2009
Austria: Parliament passes labour market stimulation package
In July 2009, the Austrian parliament passed a package of measures seeking to prevent a rise in unemployment as a result of the current economic recession. The measures include a further extension of the short-time working rules, flexibilisation of part-time working rules for older employees and the training leave regulation, as well as the establishment of a re-employment scheme for young employees. The social partners have generally welcomed the initiative.
- 19 Aug 2009
Austria: ÖGB general congress adopts new policy programme
At its general congress held in June–July 2009, the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) continued an internal restructuring process initiated in 2007 and approved a new policy programme. The programme contains a range of proposals of how to tackle the current economic crisis and secure the welfare state; it also includes demands in this regard aimed at policymakers. In the run-up to the congress, a union merger of two ÖGB affiliates took place.
- 29 Jul 2009
Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – Austria
The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in Austria. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.
- 28 Jul 2009
Austria: Economic downturn worsens climate of spring bargaining round
The economic crisis has challenged Austria’s 2009 spring bargaining process, leading to a standstill in negotiations in several economic sectors. While employers wish to temporarily suspend the standard wage-setting pattern for economic reasons, the trade unions demand decent wage increases even in periods of economic downturn. To force the employers to return to the negotiating table, the trade unions organised a demonstration involving 25,000 participants in May 2009.
- 21 Jul 2009
Austria: Significant losses for Social Democrats in Chamber of Labour elections
The 2009 round of elections to Austria’s Chambers of Labour saw a sizeable loss of support for the social-democratic group, although it still holds an absolute majority of votes. In contrast, the faction linked to the populist Freedom Party could clearly increase its share of the votes, albeit at a relatively low level. Commentators consider this outcome as a sign of opposition to the current erratic policy pursued by the Social Democratic Party as leader of the coalition government.
- 06 Jul 2009
Austria: Multinational companies and collective bargaining
In Austria, collective agreements are concluded, almost without exception, at multi-employer sectoral level. Through the system of obligatory membership of all of a sector’s companies to the responsible subunit of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ), sectoral agreements cover all of the sector’s firms – irrespective of their size. Moreover, since the firms’ voting rights for the WKÖ general elections are not wheighed according to firm size, the MNCs’ influence on decision-making within the chamber structures is quite limited – a situation which also translates into the employers’ bargaining agenda, where the MNCs’ interests seem to be under-represented.
- 15 Jun 2009
Austria: Short-time working rules amended
On 26 February 2009, the Austrian parliament endorsed an amendment to the short-time working rules, with the aim of making them more flexible and prolonging their maximum term for adoption. This move is due to a continuously growing demand by employers for short-time working arrangements to cope with the current economic downturn. Employers and trade unions, which had been the driving forces behind the legislative initiative, have largely welcomed the decision.
- 01 Jun 2009
Austria: Social partners differ over ways to bridge gender pay gap
An EU study on gender pay gaps in the Member States, measured as relative differences in the hourly earnings of women and men, revealed that in Austria women’s gross income falls short of that of men by 25.5%. While these findings have been questioned by employer organisations, trade unions and distinct political actors have been considering the introduction of wage transparency schemes for the private sector to tackle effectively such large gender pay differentials.
- 28 Apr 2009
Austria: Wage flexibility and collective bargaining
Whereas the employer representatives aim to re-design Austria’s traditional sectoral wage-setting system by making it more responsive to the needs of the individual companies, organised labour refuses any attempts to substitute collectively agreed wage increases by flexible wage elements. Nevertheless, organised decentralisation of collective bargaining also in matters related to pay has led to some innovative payment schemes in certain well-performing sectors, such as the saving banks industry.
- 28 Apr 2009
Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Austria
The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in Austria. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.
- 14 Apr 2009
Austria: New monthly minimum wage for private sector
As of 1 January 2009, almost all of Austria’s private sector has been covered by a monthly minimum wage of €1,000. This is due to a 2007 initiative of the national-level social partner organisations to introduce such a minimum wage provision by January 2009 at the latest. However, the few areas of the national economy where no collective agreement has been concluded thus far remain outside of the minimum wage regulation, as well as parts of the liberal professions and agriculture.
- 02 Apr 2009
Austria: Metalworking and chemical workers’ unions to merge
In January 2009, the Metalworking, Textiles, Agriculture and Food-processing Union and the Union of Chemical Workers announced their decision to merge their organisations by November 2009, thus establishing a new manufacturing trade union called ‘pro.ge’. The merger initiative seeks to streamline organisational structures, strengthen the unions’ political power and consolidate union balances.
- 31 Mar 2009
Austria: Wage formation
In Austria, minimum pay regulations are not set by statutory law but (except for the whole public sector) laid down in sectoral and branch-level collective agreements. This system of wage setting draws its stability and persistency mainly from two factors: a collective bargaining coverage rate of about 98-99% and the practice of’ pattern bargaining’, based on the leading role of the metalworking industry in the overall bargaining process. Despite this high degree of bargaining coordination, Austria’s collective bargaining system is not the case of centralised, tripartite concertation of wages. This is reflected by a high degree of pay inequalities between sectors, sexes and employee statuses, and flexibility.
- 09 Mar 2009
The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — Austria
By international standards, information and consultation rights provided by Austrian labour law are highly developed. Therefore neither the (then) government nor the major social partner organisations have seen any need to revise the country’s legislation in order to implement Directive 2002/14/EC. Rather, pre-existing labour law is widely considered to cover all aspects of co-determination ruled by the Directive. As a consequence, the Directive has had no impact on industrial relations in Austria.
- 23 Feb 2009
Austria: Childcare benefit scheme to be amended again
The newly formed government plans to modify the current childcare benefit scheme again, by introducing an income-related option. This alternative to the current flat-rate scheme is devised to encourage highly-skilled women earning a good wage to resume work earlier after parental leave and to attract a higher proportion of men to stay at home with their children. The social partners have welcomed the government initiative.
- 09 Feb 2009
Austria: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training
In the area of continuous vocational training (CVT), social partner involvement is most strongly institutionalised in the AMS, the national employment service agency. Likewise, the role of the social partners is also crucial in devising continuing training programmes and guidelines and in relation to legislative initiatives. However, CVT issues are only marginally dealt with in collective bargaining, mainly because the heterogeneous structure of Austria’s economy renders it difficult to set up uniform, industry-wide CVT schemes.
- 14 Jan 2009
Austria: Restructuring plans provoke unrest among postal workers
In November 2008, the Austrian Post Company confirmed plans to reduce significantly its workforce and the number of post offices in the medium term, in order to meet the challenges of the full liberalisation of postal services in Europe. As a result, the Union of Post and Telecommunications Employees has organised major protest action. Most experts agree that the company will only survive if equal market conditions for all mail service providers will be established on time.