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ÖGB boss Katzian: “Trade employees are treated like wet rags”

ÖGB boss Katzian: “Trade employees are treated like wet rags”
ÖGB President Wolfgang Katzian.
Image: HANS PUNZ (APA)

During the Corona crisis, the employees were applauded as being systemically important. “And now they are treated like a wet rag and in reality they don’t even come close to the rolling inflation. How is that supposed to turn out,” said the union president.

The high inflation caused by the federal government must now be offset by appropriate wage agreements, “otherwise purchasing power will fall dramatically,” emphasized Katzian on Wednesday in the “Ö1-Morgenjournal”. He referred to the “very good” results recently in the brewing industry, bakers and the social economy, where the previous annual inflation was offset. It is incomprehensible that this should not work for metal workers and retailers. “It is completely clear that they are pissed off and are entering into conflict,” explained Katzian.

“Those who mess with individuals are messing with all of us.”

The attitude of employers in trade and the metal industry is a burden on social partnership. Works councils and trade unionists are sometimes put under pressure and threatened. Here he has a clear message: “A works council is not an individual, it is part of a movement. Anyone who messes with individuals is messing with all of us,” said the country’s top trade unionist combatively. “Our job is to look at people,” said Katzian and made it clear: “If inflation goes down now, nothing will be cheaper.”

  • more on the subject: No agreement on the KV: Warning strikes in retail from November 30th

The trade unions have announced warning strikes, and there have already been daily strikes in the metal industry. The trade association of the metal technology industry with its around 135,000 employees will be negotiating the 2024 collective agreement in the eighth round tomorrow (valid from November 2023). The bicycle messengers are starting the KV negotiations today. In addition to legal improvements in the KV, the vida union is calling for an increase in the minimum wage to 2,000 euros gross per month.

Video: No agreement: warning strikes in retail

The metal strikes end today

Most recently completed were the brewers (plus 8.1 percent and a one-off payment of 36 euros) and the bakeries (plus 9.7 percent) as well as the social professions (plus 9.2 percent). The dairies and cheese factories (9.15 percent), the textile cleaners, washermen, dyers (9 percent), the orthopedic shoemakers (9 percent) and the forestry workers (8.8 percent) have also agreed on a wage increase.

For metal workers, the employers’ final suggestion is plus six percent and a one-off payment of 1,200 euros. The PRO-GE and GPA unions are demanding an increase of 10.6 percent. They reject one-off payments because they would not be taken into account in next year’s wage increase. The strikes in the metal industry that started on Tuesday last week end today, including a rally and demonstration at the crane manufacturer Palfinger in Lengau (Upper Austria).

The Green Economy has put forward a new proposal for the autumn wage round: a temporary reduction in employer social security contributions, whereby the loss would have to be covered by public funds. The Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for this. “A rough estimate results in around three billion euros for the whole year,” said the Green Economy to the APA.

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