Heated debate has started over a trade union's suggestion that Muslims should not be eligible for a recently-agreed Christmas bonus for pensioners – because they do not believe in Christmas.
The "Free Workers of Upper Austria", a trade union linked to the country's far-right FPÖ party, caused a stir when it launched an online poll over whether Muslims should have the right to Christmas money.
The trade union asked their followers if Christmas payments for Muslims who did not believe in Christmas was a contradiction, or whether the one-off payment - recently agreed by the Austrian parliament - should be made to everyone who works in the country no matter their religion.
They suggested that "if they are against every Christian custom, then they should also be against Christmas money".
A reported majority of online votes spoke out for scrapping the Christmas bonus to Muslim workers, but there was also a lot of criticism about the proposal.
One netizen wrote: "So we will now also give a holiday allowance only for those who travel on holiday? How can these people call themselves employee representatives?"
Another wrote: "Yes, on Christian holidays they also have days off. But on their own holidays only they have a day off while we have to work."
Last Sunday the online vote was suddenly removed from the website without comment.
In Austria, the Christmas bonus is regulated in collective agreements between employers and employees with the intention to stimulate consumerism in the pre-Christmas period.
Politicians agreed last week to pay an additional tax-free one-time payment of €100 to the already established increase of 0.8 percent. This extra payment will cost the budget €179 million.
According to the Minister of Social Affairs, Alois Stöger from the Social Democratic Party of Austria, only pensioners who are Austrian residents are beneficiaries. If someone is entitled to two or more pensions, the €100 will be paid out only once.
Around 1.8 million pensioners are entitled to the €100.
The FPÖ is currently locked in a battle for the Austrian presidency with a Green party-backed candidate.
Norbert Hofer, 45, is running against former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen, 72, in the second round of the presidential elections after a court ordered a rerun after irregularities in postal voting.
A renewed vote was originally scheduled on 2nd October, but was postponed again to 4th December after adhesive seals on postal votes were found to have come unstuck.
Story courtesy of Central European News.