Automotive and engineering companies may experience temporary disruption to production lines as metalworkers across Austria plan to hold rotating warning strikes as early as Friday, November 9. The threat comes amid ongoing negotiations on wage increases, with the latest round of talks between negotiators scheduled for today, November 8, in Vienna. Workers in sub-sectors of the metal industry, notably in the automotive and steel industries, are negotiating pay raises in parallel and these industries may also be affected by walkouts.
Earlier this week, labor unions representing more than 130,000 metalworkers organized 350 general assemblies throughout Austria to inform workers about the current status of the negotiations. Metal workers are set to intensify industrial actions following four rounds of unsuccessful negotiations on salary increases. In light of healthy industrial growth, metal workers are demanding a 5 percent pay raise and more flexible working hours, with employers only willing to concede to a 2 percent increase. Discussions have been more heated than in previous years, with both employers and labor representatives speaking of a low point in their relations. According to reports, the leading labor union ÖGB has already announced its support for strike actions. These could take place on a rotating basis, i.e. at one company a day, at major companies across Austria including auto makers and suppliers BMW, Magna and Bosch; truck manufacturer MAN; steel manufacturer Voestalpine; fire-vehicle manufacturer Rosenbauer Group; as well as elevator makers Otis, Kone and Thyssenkrupp.
While temporary walkouts seem likely to occur in case of unsuccessful talks on November 8, the prospect of a longer-term stand-off, entailing several days or weeks of walkouts, is rather unlikely. Workers intend to increase pressure on employers to make concessions and 11th hour agreements have prevented strike actions in previous years. In the most recent stand-off in 2017, a planned strike by metal workers was averted after negotiators agreed on a 3 percent pay raise.