The Social Democrats (SPÖ) unveiled their election campaign platform – and it is full of promises for employees – from a higher minimum wage (€1700) to shorter work days. These arrive exactly a year after a controversial amendment to the Working Time Act (AZG) was introduced by ÖVP-FPÖ government, which raised the maximum number of permitted daily working hours from 10 to 12, and from 50 to 60 over the week.  

Thirty percent of companies took advantage of the 12-hour day, while “recent studies show 83% of employees were dissatisfied with it,” explains ÖGB President Wolfgang Katzian. “These regulations were a step back to the middle ages.” The topic is set to take center stage at the Production Trade Union’s Autumn Wage Round (Herbstlohnrunde) hoping the unions could help shape fairer regulations. 

Pamela Rendi-Wagner presented the SPÖ’s demands before crowds at the Viktor-Adler-Markt in Vienna’s Favoriten district (Aug 30). The Reds demand a legal entitlement to the four-day work week for those who have worked for 25 years, as well as easier access to a sixth week of vacation. “Austria is an EU frontrunner in terms of overtime,” says Rendi-Wagner, adding “our employee’s diligence mustn’t lead to abusive working conditions.” 

© 2016, Eurostat

FPÖ party head Norbert Hofer spoke out against Rendi-Wagner’s statements, saying the SPÖ does “not explain itself clearly”. According to Hofer, the four-day-week and flexitime is made possible thanks to the 12-hour regulations. The Act states that the extension of the normal work day improves flexibility, which has a positive effect for both employer and employee. Moreover, Sections 7 (6) and 10 (4) give the employee freedom to refuse overtime, or choose their means of compensation.  

Disregarding the unpromising polls according to which ÖVP, and FPÖ leave them no chance, Rendi-Wagner’s SPÖ dives head first into a campaign dedicated to more childcare and improved working conditions, and features a catchy song

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