European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Strikes in Austria: background summary

No clear legal principles are laid down for assessing the lawfulness and repercussions of industrial disputes and, in particular, there is no supreme court case law on the subject. The legitimacy of strikes as a form of industrial action by employees can be derived (not least) from the legal provisions which ensure the impartiality of the state. Nevertheless, this legitimacy applies only to strikes perceived as action taken collectively by the employees' side as such.

 

  • Between 2005 and 2010, no strikes occurred in the overall economy in Austria.
  • 2011 saw the most extensive strike action in recent years – in the metalworking industry – with over 87 000 employees involved and more than 450 000 working hours (or 56 670 working days) of strikes.
  • Between 2012 and 2014, minor strikes occurred: In 2012, 1 500 employees in the printing sector were involved in strikes, with a total of 3 277 days or 4 500 hours lost. In 2013, 5 529 workers in the metalworking industry and employees in the health and social services sector went on strike, corresponding to 3 277 days or 26 215 hours of strikes. In 2014, 5 196 employees were on strike for 26 471 hours or 3 309 days in the printing sector.
  • Compared with other countries, Austria has an extremely low level of strike action: per 1,000 workers, there were 2 days lost per year (in the period 2008-2016). This is due to the social partnership system whose informal rules and principles provide consensual ways of reconciling interests.
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