The workers of the state railway company Austrian Federal Trains (ÖBB) have started an unusual 24-hour strike on Monday to demand a wage increase of 12%, higher than the 8.4% proposed by the employers.
“Rail services are suspended throughout Austria. We ask that you choose alternative travel options. Due to the all-day strike, there may also be individual train cancellations on Tuesday,” ÖBB said in a brief statement posted on its website.
Called by the union “Vida”, the strike, which will continue until midnight today after starting at 0:00 local time (23.00 GMT on Sunday), paralyzes all rail traffic, including commuter trains, and affects about one million passengers who travel by train every day in this Alpine country.
The unions staged the work stoppage after the fifth round of negotiations between workers’ and employers’ representatives over an increase in collective bargaining rates failed on Sunday.
In view of inflation of 11% year-on-year, rail workers are demanding an average wage increase of 12%, while employers have offered a maximum of 8.4%.
The country’s car clubs have warned that traffic jams and problems are expected, mainly in cities and at peak times.
According to the ÖBB, around 8,000 passenger and freight trains from different operators normally run daily in Austria.
Thanks to a long tradition known as the “Social Alliance”, in which consensus is fostered between employers’ and workers’ representatives, strikes rarely occur in Austria.
However, high inflation, and especially the rise in energy prices, which tend to reduce both the pocket of the worker and the performance of companies, has added a lot of tension to the annual negotiations on collective agreements and more strikes in various sectors are not ruled out.
In fact, today’s coincides with another of the brewers, who like the railroad workers did not reach an agreement with the employers on wage increases.
Similar is the situation of retail workers, who have warned that they are preparing a two-day strike if they do not reach a satisfactory result in their negotiations by tomorrow.