The search is “challenging” but doable, said ÖBB boss Andreas Matthä on Tuesday in the business journalists’ club. However, classic advertisements in newspapers would not lead to success. New people are found via social media – depending on the age group via different ones. Apprentices can be reached “almost exclusively” via TikTok, technicians more via LinkedIn or Facebook.
The group not only offers a wide range of 130 different professions within ÖBB, from commercial to technical professions. There are offers both inside and outside of Austria: “You can work in Shanghai. You can work in Attnang-Puchheim,” says Matthä. However, 90 percent of the approximately 42,000 jobs are in Germany.
600 new apprentices every year
Every year, ÖBB takes on 600 apprentices and trains them in 27 different professions. But also railway-specific professions such as conductors or engine drivers can only be learned at the railway itself, which has built its own training center for this purpose. Every year, 35,000 to 40,000 applications are looked at to find the 3,000 new employees. In addition to salary expectations, a major challenge is the strong desire for part-time jobs. “We still have heated discussions in the group, but we have to offer it more,” says Matthä. In some areas, the ÖBB is also looking for part-time employees, for example to cover early peaks for bus drivers. ÖBB currently has 2,500 part-time employees. Bringing pensioners back to active work is also an issue.
ÖBB trains 500 people a year to be engine drivers alone – but then a quarter quickly drop out. Among other things, because the requirements for training are very high, says Matthä. There is also a high turnover among conductors, not least because the passengers’ potential for aggression has increased significantly. In general, there is a loss of respect.
Minimum salary of 2,000 euros gross
Matthä points out that ÖBB has decided to pay at least EUR 2,000 gross for everyone in the future, including in the areas of catering and security. However, only a good 400 employees currently earn so little. In the railway workers’ KV, there are only four hand-picked people who will no longer be included with the upcoming KV increase.
The trade union demand of 500 euros more for all 35,000 employees under the railway workers’ KV would mean a wage increase of 14.2 percent in the ÖBB, calculated Matthä. On the other hand, employers offer full wage compensation, up to now it was seven percent, and even more in October. You have to talk about that. The trade union actions, which partially paralyzed rail traffic, “I’m not happy,” says Matthä. He also thinks little of the protection against dismissal – desired by the union. While that would motivate some to stay in the company, it would be less appealing if some then said “I can’t be harmed anyway”. The ÖBB still has 40 percent permanent civil servants from the old monopoly days.