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Representation of employees

The Trade unions

In Austria trade unions have a long tradition and are politically influential. The unions are organised in the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (ÖGB)). There are also regional organisations. In Austria some 1.4 million employees are trade union members.

A worker becomes a member of a union on application. For employees, union contributions are deducted directly from their pay. Membership of a union arises from occupational activity and the fact of belonging to an industrial branch.

Trade unions represent the political, economic and social interests of employees vis-à-vis employers, the government and the political parties. The tasks of the Austrian Trade Union Federation include for example:

  • negotiation of collective agreements
  • inter-enterprise co-determination in the context of the economic and social partnership
  • implementation of social improvements
  • safeguarding social standards
  • safeguarding real wages
  • legal service for members

The Chambers of Labour

The Chambers of Labour represent some three million employees throughout Austria and co-operate closely with the Austrian Trade Unions. Membership is compulsory. The contribution to the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammerumlage) is deducted automatically from pay and amounts to 0.5% of gross wages.

The Chamber of Labour, like the ÖGB, represents the social, economic and political interests of employees vis-à-vis employers, the government and the parties. Among the services offered directly to employees are advice on labour law, legal representation in the labour and social security court, employee protection, protection of apprentices and young people, advice on social insurance matters and wage accounting and tax matters and consumer protection.

The nine Chambers of Labour – each on the level of a province – are united in the Federal Chamber of Labour. The Chambers of Labour also have considerable political influence in Austria and are an important pillar of the economic and social partnership.

The works council

Employees are in principle represented in the firm or plant by works councils. A works council may be established where the size of the business consistently exceeds five employees. The works council is elected by the employees of a business.

The primary role of the works council is to represent the employees vis-à-vis the business owner. Works councils are consulted, for example, in the course of unilateral terminations or recruitment, and provide employees with information in matters of labour law.

Other interest groups

The interests of self-employed persons are represented by the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and its professional organisations, other chambers (e.g. Chamber of Pharmacists), associations and federations (e.g. Federation of Austrian Industry). You can obtain further information from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and its provincial organisations.

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