Plain text from Katzian – “People are going crazy” – ÖGB boss for gas price brake

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Given the huge price increases, Wolfgang Katzian, president of ÖGB, is still pushing for a heat package and inflation-dampening ceilings on rents and daily goods. This should be funded by the excess profit tax, Katzian said in ORF’s “press hour” on Sunday. Katzian welcomed the electricity price cap. But he demands the same for all forms of heating – gas, pellets, oil, etc. – and also electricity price measures for heat pumps, because: “People are slowly going crazy!”

The union boss warned that gas regulations were “lewdly high” and electricity costs skyrocketing as many people had switched to heat pumps to “save the world”. “We have to come up with something”, and not just for vulnerable groups.

So far “nothing at all has happened” with the inflation dampening measures demanded by the ÖGB in March – in particular a rent freeze and a reduction in VAT on everyday goods. The only response was the ECB’s interest rate hike – and that will still cause loan repayment problems. The “watering can” argument against price caps “gets on his nerves”. You have to do something if the price of the weekly groceries has risen by 14 percent. The fact that price ceilings in Hungary had the opposite effect – goods became scarce and eventually more expensive – is no argument for him that the general conditions are different there.

Profit skimming only for Katzian “profit tax light”
Katzian welcomed the recent decision by the National Council to transfer profits from energy companies – but that was only a “profit tax relief”. The government had not implemented all the options that would have been available, insisting on the ÖGB model of the Chamber of Labour.

Satisfaction with salary agreements
Katzian is completely satisfied with the salary agreements reached, because “the social partnership has done a good job”. He is particularly pleased that – which “wasn’t so easy” – the workers’ representatives have managed to avoid one-off payments as a substitute for wage increases. Because with one-off surcharges on the cost of living and therefore lower wage increases, “a middle class person in the life of a young worker would have been forgotten”. The fact that the agreements were different – pensions will rise by at least 5.8 percent, wages for railway employees by an average of 8.9 percent – is due to the key date for the negotiations. The basis for the increases is always the “rolling inflation” of the previous twelve months, and for this year that meant “the later, the higher” the underlying inflation rate.

2000 euros minimum wage “very clear goal”
The target of EUR 2000 gross minimum wage has come closer. Katzian is convinced that in some sectors – trade or social economy – you will make it with the next diploma. Exact figures are not yet available; in the summer, 18 percent of workers earned less. As things stand, the survey will be conducted in January in preparation for the spring wage round, further pursuing the “very clear goal of a minimum wage of €2,000”. If that does not work through negotiations, the union considers measures – “the bouquet of what you can do is very large”. Katzian – as in Burgenland – “of course” welcomes the statutory minimum wage, but anchoring it in collective agreements is more effective. Statutory minimum wages are often a “deal”, used as optional treats – and can also be reduced again, for example during the financial crisis.

Of course, the shortage of skilled workers was also a topic in the “press hour” with the ÖGB president. Here he insisted on “good working conditions” – not only in terms of wages, but also in terms of schedule planning, i.e. work-life balance. In the current phase you see that “many go where they are”. The potential of some 60,000 mothers who want to work again or more must be exploited, Katzian argued for a legal right to childcare. He also warned companies to train more young people again, so to hire apprentices.

Katzian is also in favor of giving young asylum seekers who have a good chance of staying in the country access to the labor market and internships.

Source: Krone

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