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Long-standing social partnership at risk in Austria

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23 August, 2012In the run-up to the bargaining round in the metal and mining industry, IndustriALL’s Austrian affiliate PRO-GE and the Non-Manual Workers’ Unions in the private sector GPA-DJP are calling on their members to mobilize and fight with all means for a joint collective agreement.

Next month PRO-GE and GPA-DJP will start negotiation with six employer associations on a new collective agreement for about 180,000 workers in the metal and mining industry. Traditionally, bargaining in metal and mining plays a special role and sets the trend for all other sectors in Austria. Negotiations are expected to be very tough this year as, for the first time, employers have announced that they no longer want to bargain jointly but separately.

The attempt by employers to break-up the collective agreement is a “declaration of war” aimed at undermining union power stated Rainer Wimmer, President of PRO-GE and President of IndustriALL’s Mechanical Engineering Sector. “Social partnership, social peace and economic development are being put at risk. The true objective of some employers is fewer rights and less pay for workers in Austria. The aim of trade unions, on the opposite, is to continue the successful model of joint negotiations and not to destroy it.” 

In 2011 the unions were able to obtain wage and salary increases ranging from 3.8 per cent for white-collar workers up to 5.3 per cent for the lowest income group. This success was made possible thanks to the many workplace actions and the pressure generated by strategic strikes during the negotiating process.  “Our strength lies in our solidarity,” said Wimmer, adding, “We will not be divided.”

IndustriALL Global Union stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Austrian workers and pledges its full support to their fight for a joint collective agreement and safeguarding the current system of social partnership that is a salient feature of industrial relations in Austria.