Prelude to difficult autumn wage round

The trade union and employers in the metalworking industry will meet in the Chamber of Commerce in Vienna on Monday to hand over the claims. It’s about 180,000 employees, the metallers often have a role model effect for the following wage rounds.

The starting point is the past annual inflation rate of 6.3 percent. Traditionally, there is also an increase in productivity. The union did not want to reveal in advance exactly how much it expects. In the Ö1 morning journal, however, chief negotiator Rainer Wimmer said that real wage growth was demanded, “everything else is unthinkable for us”. That could go as far as demanding an increase of ten percent, as the SPÖ pensioners’ association had demanded for itself. That is “a very good demand” that he “fully supports,” said Wimmer.

The trade union federation (ÖGB) also named an increase in the minimum wage to 2,000 euros gross as a goal. Currently, 180,000 of the approximately four million employees earn less than 1,700 euros gross. In the metalworking industry, with its comparatively high wages and salaries for around 137,000 employees, the gross minimum wage is already 2,090 euros.

Industry doesn’t want to shoulder everything

Christian Knill from the industry division of the Chamber of Commerce (WKO) let it be known that employers could not shoulder everything that inflation entails. The state has already relieved that must flow into the negotiations.

ÖVP Labor Minister Martin Kocher wished for a balance in the negotiations on Sunday in the ORF “Press Hour”. Purchasing power stability must be maintained and at the same time the general economic situation must be taken into account, and inflation must not be fueled any further. The government sent a number of signals to the negotiators with the anti-inflation package. Kocher also appealed to solidarity, “but also, of course, to put populism aside”.

Kocher on wage negotiations

ÖVP Minister of Labor Martin Kocher would like the wage negotiations to be balanced, as he said in the “Press Hour”.

He expects a higher degree than in previous years, when the negotiations were quick and conciliatory due to the pandemic. But the question is “of course also: How high can that go? Due to the difficult situation, the companies are of course also affected by the massive price increases, especially for energy, for energy suppliers. This means that if prices and wages go up too much, difficulties will arise and companies will not be able to survive on the market,” says Kocher.

ÖGB President Wolfgang Katzian during a demonstration of the ÖGB

APA/Photonews.at/George Schneider

On Saturday, the ÖGB called for nationwide demos

Van der Bellen supported demos

In the run-up to the transfer of claims, the ÖGB had called for demonstrations nationwide on Saturday. Not only higher wages were demanded, but also measures against inflation and an excess profit tax. According to ÖGB information, 32,000 people across Austria took part in the demo, according to unofficial police figures it was 12,000.

The ÖGB received support from Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen for the large-scale demonstrations: he supported the concerns of the rallies, he wrote on Twitter. The rampant inflation and its consequences put many employees under great pressure. “Just as we as a community intervene to regulate energy prices, we must also create social security against inflation.” The FPÖ accused Van der Bellen of hypocrisy in a broadcast.

Collective bargaining negotiations in the private health and social sector with around 130,000 employees also start on Monday. The last negotiations took place in 2020, when the general 37-hour week was introduced in the industry.

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