After eight more hours of negotiations in the sixth round, the negotiators of the social economy collective agreement ended their talks late Monday evening – with no result. The positions remain the same: the two trade unionists, Monika Guglberger from Vida and Eva Scherz from GPA-djp, are still demanding a 35-hour instead of 38-hour week for the 125,000 employees. Employer negotiator Walter Marschitz continues to say no to the reduction in working hours – especially due to the lack of staff in inpatient care.
Both sides reported “zero rapprochement” and “unacceptable” suggestions from the other party. Guglberger, Scherz and Marschitz all agree on one thing: What the calculation of the stage plan for reducing working hours that the union presented in the sixth round of negotiations would have meant: the calculation is the same, but there are two possible solutions.
The stage solution
Already at the beginning of the negotiations on Monday, the union presented a plan in four stages: in 2020 there would be a wage increase of 2.5 percent, in 2021 1.5 fewer working hours and an inflation compensation. In 2022 employees would be replaced by one and a half times the inflation, in 2023 the working time would be reduced by 1.5 hours and the wages adjusted by the inflation rate.
Employer negotiator Marschitz did the calculations. It comes to 17.8 percent additional costs within these four years compared to 2019, “because every stage continues to have an impact in the following year”, as it were with compound interest calculations on the savings book. “This is also financially impossible for us under the current framework,” he continues to say.
“The calculation is correct,” says Eva Scherz. But she also says: “Our proposal is not so overwhelming if you want to achieve something.” The employers each proposed a 2.7 percent increase for 2020 and 2021 as a wage increase. “They have the same effect, so why are they financially viable?” Asks Schwer, emphasizing again: “We need bigger steps, more courage.”
When comparing it to other industries, Marschitz is not satisfied. He compares the average 4.5 percent per year with 2.6 plus in the energy and petroleum industries, but does not count “compound interest” or the wage increases in the coming years. The 2.6 percent increase is clearly only comparable to the 2.5 percent increase in stage one.
Politically expand scope
But enough – before the next trial date on March 2, the unions announced warning strikes for February 27 and 28. Guglberger speaks of other companies taking part, on February 12 there were 200 across Austria and a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Both sides agree on one point: “More support is needed from the political side,” says Marschitz. “We agree that politicians need more money,” said Scherz. The Minister of Social Affairs Rudolf Anschober’s task force, where state politicians will also be present, will start at the earliest at the end of April – and that for a part of the social economy, nursing.