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STRIKES

‘Excessive and irresponsible’: Austrian train workers threaten to strike over salary demands

Worker's unions for Austrian train companies are considering a nationwide strike on Monday November 28th if negotiations for salary increases fail.

An ÖBB train in the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Image: Pixlr
Illustration photo. Image: Pixlr.

The workers are asking for a salary increase of up to 24 percent, broadcaster ORF reported, citing company representatives.

If there is no agreement in the current collective bargaining (Kollektivvertrag) negotiations, they are prepared to strike from next Monday November 28th.

Trade unions demand increased salaries due to high inflation in Austria but are repeatedly being told that companies can’t afford to pay them, ORF said. They have applied for permission to hold a nationwide warning strike on Monday, November 28th. 

The union mentioned a “lack of appreciation” and an “only cosmetically embellished offer” on the part of the employers.

READ ALSO: Long-haul flights from Austria: How to get the best prices this winter

“We met the employers several times and, among other things, adjusted our offer to €400 a month on wages,” said Gerhard Tauchner, vice-chairman of the railway section in labour union Vida.

“The employers have made an offer that would mean real wage losses of up to two percent because of the continuing rise in inflation.”

Thomas Scheiber, the chief negotiator at the Chamber of Commerce (WKÖ)’s railways trade association, said workers were offered increases of up to 12 percent. He said that an increase of up to 24 percent would incur expenses of more than € 400 million, which is “unaffordable”.

READ ALSO: Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

He said: “The union has completely left reality. To put strike scenarios back on the table after our offer is excessive and irresponsible”.

Both sides stressed that they are still willing to negotiate, according to Vienna.at

The “Vida” association called on the employers to return to the negotiating table while the companies’ side hoped for a change of heart on the part of Vida. 

The head of the largest employer in the industry, ÖBB board member Andreas Matthä, also called for the resumption of talks.

READ ALSO: Train travel in Austria: 6 ways you can save money

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STRIKES

Train strike: What are your rights in Austria if your trip is cancelled or delayed?

Rail workers at Austria's ÖBB went on strike Monday after salary negotiations ended with no deal. Here's what you need to know about your rights if you're affected.

Train strike: What are your rights in Austria if your trip is cancelled or delayed?

The Austria-wide strikes affect ÖBB trains but also regional transport (including the S-Bahn system that goes through Vienna) and some transport operated by Westbahn.

There may also be individual train cancellations on Tuesday, November 29th, as The Local reported. Information on this can be found in the ÖBB SCOTTY.

The warning strike was called after trade unions and companies were not able to agree on salary increases amid rising inflation in Austria. Vida, the trade union representing the workers, has asked for a wage increase of €400 – an average increase of around 12 percent. In response, Austria’s Chamber of Commerce offered a rise of 8 percent.

READ ALSO: Strikes in Austria: How will transport and services be affected

What happens to tickets I’ve already bought?

Sparschiene and other ÖBB tickets booked for travel during the strike are valid until December 5th 2022, or can be cancelled, refunded or rebooked, ÖBB said. 

You can do so at all ÖBB travel centres or ticket counters and through the customer service hotline on 05-1717 9.

In the case of Westbahn tickets, the company is asking customers to cancel them – this can also be done retroactively. 

What if I am stranded due to the strike?

If you are stranded due to the strike, the costs for adequate hotel accommodation and taxi costs to the hotel must be covered by ÖBB. 

The maximum amount for local and regional transport is €80 per person for an overnight stay in a hotel and €50 per person for a taxi ride, according to the Agency for Passenger Rights (APF).

The agency also recommends people ask the railway company for confirmation of the delay or cancelled ticket.

There would be no compensation claims if you were informed about the delay or cancellation before you bought your ticket. There is also no entitlement to compensation for delays in “specific individual cases” to people who hold an annual travel pass.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

In the event of disputes, the AFP can provide assistance. The organisation currency recommends postponing non-essential travel to a later date and adjusting your ticket validity. 

ÖBB said: “We will look at and evaluate each complaint individually. However, it must be considered that the strike was announced in advance.”

The company also said that it does not offer any replacement services. However, the CAT train in Vienna, which connects the city centre to the international airport, has a replacement making Wien-Mitte – Airport journey. 

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