Unions call for a working time overhaul at high-level conference

Wednesday 12 September 2018

This week, UNI Europa and its largest Austrian affiliate, GPA-djp, held a two-day high-level conference in Vienna on working time.

Against the back drop of a new law in Austria increasing the working day from eight to twelve hours and the working week from forty to sixty hours, the conference was an opportunity for trade unions to discuss the best way forward for working time in the future work of work.

Key speakers were GPA-djp President Barbara Teiber, Wolfgang Katzian, President of the fellow Austrian trade union OEGB, and Frank Bsirske, President of UNI Europa and German affiliate ver.di.  The conference also had a panel discussion featuring key trade union figures from across Europe, as well as case studies on best practices from Romania and Germany.

The conference also unveiled a new study by the Hans-Böckler Foundation, ‘Innovative Working Time Policy in the Service Sector’, which unequivocally stated that countries that have shorter working days are more productive and that workers prefer more free time to more pay.

UNI Europa and GPA-djp released the Vienna Declaration – the paper ‘It is our Time: Working Time in the New World of Work –Working Time and Collective Bargaining Policy’ – which detailed several proposals for better working time conditions for workers.

The final act of the conference was the signing of an open letter to the Austrian Federal Chancellor on the new Austrian working time law, showing a strong opposition from across Europe on the adoption of this archaic law by the right-wing Austrian government.

The Vienna Declaration can be found here.

A summary of the Hans-Böckler Foundation study can be found here.