What are the unions doing to fight unemployment?

In Austria in March unemployment was at a new record high, and there were 402,323 people without a job, which is an increase of 36,046 on the previous year. In Germany in contrast, the number of unemployed people has gone down for the third month in a row.

Austria's top political commentator and business analyst Andreas Unterberger says the blame lays clearly at the door of government policies and pandering to the trade unions:

"It is now almost a daily occurrence. One company after the other is closing down. But what are the trade unions doing about it? Quite simply, they are making ever more demands that cost ever more money and that destroy even more job places. It is almost unbelievable what is happening.

"After the bankruptcy of DiTech, and the almost bankruptcy of Baumax, and after the disasters of Dayli and Schlecker, Alpine and hundreds of others, now it is the turn of the American sound technology company Knowles. They are not yet bankrupt, but they are getting rid of 280 jobs in Austria. The end result of course for those who have lost their job is the same. They don't have a job any more.

"Knowles, which was formerly the microphone division of Philips, made a rather dry statement that was not a surprise for anyone with their eyes open, although not apparently trade unionists or the politicians.

"The job losses are a direct result of the 'wage costs that on an international scale at the higher end of the level.'

"It doesn't get much clearer than that. The jobs aren't lost. They've gone to Asia.

"What has the Austrian trade union, the ÖGB, got to say about this development?

"Quite simply, backed by the powerful state broadcaster the ORF, they are putting forward the suggestion that there should now be a sixth week of holiday for anyone who has been working for 25 years. A conservative estimate is that the idea would cost around 700 million EUR annually to the Austrian economy.

"And the ÖAAB, the Conservative OVP linked trade union body, is going along with the idea, even though there isn't any evidence that a single worker in the entire country is actually requesting it.

"Every month, the unemployment statistics are increasing. But the ÖGB officials are not decreasing the demands, instead they are accelerating.

"They have learned nothing from the entire ÖGB generated Konsum disaster or from the ÖGB BAWAG bankruptcy. The big chiefs at the ÖGB seem oblivious to it all. Everyone else is always to blame, not them.

"With regards to the BAWAG investigation, that meant of course lots of other people to blame, but of course not the bosses of the ÖGB who owned it in the first place. And ever since Werner Faymann took over the Social Democrat SPÖ the party has not made any decisions that go against whatever it is that the ÖGB want.

"The SPÖ and the ÖGB seem to still seriously believe that it is enough for Austria to hold its own within the EU. That's madness. It is the EU that is in competition with the rest of the world. Competition has for a long time no longer been something found in other EU countries, instead, it's is now from around the world. Even Austria buys its mobile telephones where it is cheapest, without worrying about where they are made. Anybody that says anything different is a liar.

"Yet sadly in Austria even the Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ) hasn't understood the blame that the ÖGB shares on the catastrophic future prospects for Austria and the EU. Instead they have fostered it, drunk on the social partnership and its gold-making machine, the Chamber of Labour (AK).

"I haven't yet heard the standard parrot phrase about Knowles that has so far appeared on every other occasion: 'Management is to blame, not us.' But don't worry, it won't be long."

This English version of comment from the Tagebuch was translated by the British journalist Michael Leidig and his team at the Central European News agency. He can be contacted for corrections and improvements to the English here: (editor@cen.at)

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  1. Aufa (kein Partner)
    21. Januar 2015 19:24

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  2. Andres (kein Partner)
    21. Januar 2015 00:23

    Hey Bas! Happy to hear that ur camera costs are going to be coveerd! Although I still find it extremely shame that the content of ur filming was lost forever But then again, something is better then nothing! At lest u got ur camera costs back!

  3. Tatsuo (kein Partner)
    19. Januar 2015 16:27

    “Watermelons” by Charles Simic was a very short but meaningful poem. The poem is only feitefn words long and has all of two sentences. It starts off by referring to the watermelons as Green Buddhas and then follows by their location, on the fruit stand. (Line 1 and 2) The next two lines, I felt had the most meaning, “We eat the smile And spit out the teeth.” (Line 3 and 4) The last two lines are saying how we take the best parts but do not take everything as a whole. The smile is only as good because we have the teeth but we do not realize that. If we refer this to a watermelon, then it is like eating the meat of the watermelon but spitting out the seeds as if they were nothing. What we did not realize is that we needed the seeds to get the watermelon in the first place. I feel that Charles Simic is trying to portray in the poem that we need to appreciate everything as a whole.

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