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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Retail sector threatens to strike, Austria not likely to veto Croatia in Schengen, mug deposit prices skyrocket in Christmas Markets and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
Vienna Christmas Markets: deposit prices for mugs have gone up this year (Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash)
  • Retail sector could strike after talks on salary broke off

On Tuesday, the social partners made their fourth attempt to reach new collective agreements in the retail sector, and for the fourth time, they were broken off without results – this time at around 10 pm, the newspaper Der Standard reported.

The union had already made it clear in advance: If there is no agreement on Tuesday, further works meetings are certain, followed by warning strikes. Protest rallies were already held last week.

The parties have to decide on the salaries of 430,000 employees. Around 70 percent of them are women, and just under 37 percent work part-time. 

The ideas of the union and employers are far apart: while employees insisted on an increase of 10 percent, they had been offered four percent more in combination with one-time payments.

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

  • How to save money and still go skiing in Austria

Is it possible to go skiing in Austria this year and not spend a fortune? Yes, as long as you don’t mind compromising on a few factors. Here’s how.

  • Croatia sees Austria’s reservations over Schengen as ‘domestic calculations’

On December 8th, the EU Council is set to vote on whether or not Croatia, which since 2013 has been a member of the bloc, should also join the Schengen zone, effectively eliminating border controls between it and other member states Slovenia and Hungary.

Austria has had reservations about expanding the Schengen area, but the Croatian authorities do not fear a veto once the voting comes. 

Instead, they evaluate the Alpine country’s position as more of a “domestic political calculation to keep the migration issue simmering”.

Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović told Croatian media that he expects Croatia to become a member of the zone on January 1, 2023. “Since the beginning of our accession to Schengen, Austria has supported our entry. Nothing has changed there”, he said.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What happens if you overstay your 90-day limit in Austria?

  • Private university in Vienna loses accreditation for medical studies

The Master’s programme in Human Medicine, which Vienna’s Sigmund Freud University (SFU) has been offering since 2015/16, is about to be discontinued, the newspaper Die Presse reported.

Due to quality deficiencies, the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria) revoked the approval of the master, which has a tuition fee adding up to € 12,500 per semester. However, existing students can complete their studies, and the bachelor’s programme can remain in place.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s controversial project to recruit nursing staff from Vietnam?

  • Inflation carries mug prices up in Vienna’s Christmas markets

Viennese Christmas Markets operators are justifying the high deposit prices for the Christmas mugs with inflation costs, broadcaster ORF reported. 

In some markets, the deposit can cost up to €5 (Stephansplatz market). A Glühwein, for example, might be advertised as costing €4,90, but once you get to the stand, you will be asked to pay €9,90. Of course, the deposit is only temporary – bringing the cups back also means you get your €5 back.

“Inflation and the cost of producing the cups and also the logistics of the whole cleaning service have gone up a lot now, and that’s why the four euros,” explained Hannes Dejaco, who runs several large Christmas markets in Vienna.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: A guide to the main Christmas Markets in Austria

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

The influence of the Italian low front will weaken, but dense cloud masses will remain in the eastern half of the country, Austria’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said. 

Also, until noon some rain or snowfall is still to be expected in the eastern region as well as in the mountains from Salzburg eastwards. The snow line is between 400 and 800m, rising towards the west. 

Slowly the sun will assert itself more, before clouds from the next front arrive in Vorarlberg and Tyrol. High temperatures will be between 3C to 9C.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].

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For members


Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

More train strikes likely ahead, Vienna announces €200 energy payout, masks in public transport and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
  • Employers have ‘little hope’ in negotiations with rail workers

After a 24 hours strike that affected all nationwide trains in Austria, employers have “little hope” in the negotiations with trade unions, the newspaper Der Standard reported.

They expect further industrial action from the transport and services union Vida. The parties in the dispute have irreconcilable demands, the newspaper added. On Monday, the head of trade union Vida said there was a lot of “catching up” to do in terms of wages for the approximately 50,000 railway workers and that what employers had offered was not nearly sufficient.

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

  • Vienna Energy Bonus: How to get a €200 payout

The City of Vienna announced on Monday, November 28th, more government assistance to cushion rising costs for residents. 

Viennese households will receive €200 in a new “energy bonus’, according to statements given by the City Councillor for Finance Peter Hanke (SPÖ). The administration said the bonus would benefit about two-thirds of all city homes, as The Local reported on Monday. Here is what you need to know about the scheme and how to apply for the benefit.

  • No road traffic chaos after the train strike

There was no vast traffic chaos on Monday – especially at the entrances to the city of Vienna.

Commuters had, as far as possible, organised substitutes for the train or stayed in their home offices. “The morning peaks lasted a little longer than usual, but there were no kilometre-long traffic jams,” said a spokeswoman for Asfinag, the public company that operates the autobahn. 

She said they had increased route staff and cancelled daytime roadworks to keep roads clear to relieve the situation. After the coronavirus pandemic, companies and workers were also better used to switching to working from home. 

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

  • Mask mandate to stay unchanged during Vienna winter

The FFP2 mask mandate in the Austrian capital Vienna is likely to stay in place during the whole winter, Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) told Austrian media.

He said: “It makes sense to keep certain measures in place during the colder months of the year.”

The head of the city assumes that the rules will apply until the end of winter because the situation is not likely to ease significantly during the cold season. In any case, he said he would continue to consult with his team of experts. “They have guided me well through the crisis so far,” Ludwig added.

Measures such as PCR tests and the compulsory use of FFP2 for hospital visitors will also stay in place for the time being.

READ ALSO: Masks against Covid and flu: What’s ahead for Austria this winter

  • Austrian satisfaction with politics plummets

Satisfaction with the political system in Austria has fallen to its lowest level since the survey began in 2018 in SORA’s annual Democracy Monitor. More people than ever also want a “strong leader”.

In concrete terms, only 34 percent of those surveyed now think that the political system in Austria functions well. Five years ago, satisfaction in the “Democracy Monitor” was 30 percentage points higher (64 percent).

Trust in institutions also continued to decline year-on-year: the federal government is currently trusted by 33 percent (down nine percentage points), parliament by 38 percent (down eight percentage points) and the federal president by 53 percent (down six percentage points). 

Thirty-eight percent of respondents also currently cannot find a political party that represents their concerns, compared to only 13 percent in 2018.

According to SORA, one reason for the loss of confidence is that political actors are failing to address particularly important issues in a way that inspires confidence. 

Most people name inflation (42 percent) as their most pressing political concern at the moment, followed by economic inequality (20 percent), climate change (15 percent), the war in Ukraine (14 percent) and immigration and integration (13 percent).

READ ALSO: Why is support for Austria’s far-right FPÖ rising?

  • National vaccination panel updates recommendations

The Austrian National Vaccination Panel has updated its recommendations on Covid vaccination on several points. 

Among other things, the protein vaccine from Sanofi and the variant vaccine for children aged five years and older from BioNTech/Pfizer were included in the recommendation. In addition, it is specified that a further booster vaccination (5th dose) is currently not yet generally recommended, except for risk groups and persons over 60 years of age. 

In order to ensure the best possible protection during the cold season, the experts continue to strongly recommend the completion of the basic immunisation as well as the booster vaccination (totalling four doses).

READ ALSO: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

  • Weather

Screenshot from ZAMG

Today it will remain mostly cloudy in Austria, the country’s meteorologic institute ZAMG said. 

In the western half, it will rain or snow a little at times. The snow line will be between 700 and 1200m above sea level. There are only a few temporarily sunny areas, and the sun is most likely to come through briefly in the afternoon in the centre of the country. 

The wind will be light in the east, moderate to brisk from north to southeast. In the afternoon, temperatures should be between 0C and 7C.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected].