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Trade Union Revitalisation

Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries

Edited By Craig Phelan

Although trade unionism has been declining in virtually every part of the world, its continued demise is not a foregone conclusion. As it has throughout its history, trade unionism has demonstrated a capacity to adapt, to make its voice heard, to reassert its power. The scale and scope of experimentation taking place in the labour movement today is testimony not just to the depth of the crisis but also to the possibility of resurgence in the years ahead. This book is an essential resource for anyone wishing to know about contemporary labour issues. It offers a comprehensive introduction to the state of trade unionism in the world today, and the often innovative strategies and tactics trade unionists are using to revive their organisations in each of the major nations of the world. Leading labour scholars discuss, in clear prose, the health of the trade union movement, the present political and economic climate for trade union advancement, the dominant revitalisation strategies, and future prospects in each nation. Each chapter includes an up-to-date guide to further reading.


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Austria: Corporatist Unionism in Crisis 245


SABINE BLASCHKE Austria: Corporatist Unionism in Crisis 1. Introduction Austrian trade unionism is exceptional in its centralisation and unity. There is only one confederation, the Austrian Trade Union Confeder- ation (ÖGB) which comprises virtually the entire Austrian trade union membership. A union affiliated with the Freedom Party was created outside the ÖGB in 1998, yet so far this union has remained very small, virtually without influence, and has no right to conduct col- lective bargaining. In 2001, an independent teachers’ union was formed, yet so far it is also without influence. The ÖGB was founded in 1945 as an all-party confederation, but was subdivided into ideological factions on an informal level. The ÖGB affiliates are not independent associations, they are rather sub- divisions of the confederation which therefore exercises control over their finances, employees and negotiating function. At present the ÖGB has 12 affiliates, whose distinct domains are demarcated by sector and employee status (blue collar, white collar, public). There are several blue-collar and public-sector unions, but nearly all white- collar-workers in the private sector are organised in a single union, the Union of Salaried Private Sector Employees (GPA). This non- realisation of industrial unionism has led to a permanent conflict between the GPA and the blue-collar unions. Collective bargaining takes place on the sectoral level and is conducted by the affiliates on behalf of the ÖGB. Collective bargaining coverage in Austria is very high. In the private sector – the public sector is excluded from the right to bargain collectively...

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