The unions, which are affiliated to industriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global, have decided to prolong the previously announced walkouts because the employers’ latest offer fell far below inflation, despite record profits in the sector. Temporary one-day strikes of at least 8 hours will take place in metalworking companies throughout Austria until 17 November. The aim of the strikes is to demand a wage increase of 11.6 per cent and paid strike time.
Seven weeks and six rounds of negotiations, three-hour warning strikes from 6 to 8 November in over 400 companies, rallies and roadblocks have so far failed to produce acceptable results.
The unions rejected the employers' latest offer because it fell far below the rate of inflation. Employers had offered a wage increase of 2.7 per cent, with an additional fixed pay rise of €130.00 and a one-off payment of €1,200.00. As an alternative, they offered a wage increase of 6.0% plus a one-off payment of €1,200. The two offers are roughly equivalent and well below the 9.6% average inflation rate over the last 12 months.
Employers have already threatened dismissals in an attempt to intimidate workers, but the unions are confident that they can keep up the fight to win a pay rise that reflects the spiralling cost of living in Austria and secure a decent living for the country's 200,000 metalworkers.
Austria is known for its good system of industrial relations, and the last strikes in the metal industry took place in 2018. This year is a worrying exception.
Acting Joint General Secretary of industriAll Europe Isabelle Barthès:
“Despite record profits, employers in Austria’s metal industry are offering wages that would lead to a sharp drop in purchasing power. This is irresponsible and shameful.
“Our Austrian colleagues can count on the solidarity and support of industriAll Europe in their fight for a struggle for a fair share of wealth workers have contributed to create. We urge the employers to return to reason and present an improved offer that can end the conflict and help working families make ends meet in these difficult times.”
Atle Høie, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, says:
“Instrumental in creating wealth, workers deserve their share and to earn a decent living. We stand behind the striking workers in Austria and urge the employers to respect the model of industrial relations and find a solution.”