Austria: Bus strike update

It has now become clear that the Austrian TUC is preparing for a de-mobilisation of the bus workers action. High up union officials have led the protests and a meeting of the TUC national body was fixed to convene as the blockade started!

The protests were impressive. Thirty-nine buses choked up Vienna inner city. Many people cheered the striking workers in warm support, and only a few were angry because of the standstill. The protests in front of the Labour Ministry and parliament were quiet, although the workers we talked to on the protests made clear they would have been prepared to make as much noise as possible, if given a lead.

Both the Finance and ‘Infrastructure’ ministers (FPÖ) refused to have any talks with the shop stewards or the trade unions.

TUC boss, Verzetnitsch, in his main speech, argued for something like a "special Austrian solution", ‘guaranteeing’ that no bus-line will be closed. He said, "This is not a protest in favour of wages or working conditions, but for the interests of whole of Austria". He did not even specifically mention strike action.

SLP (Socialist Left Party – CWI section in Austria) brought the only banner to the protests, ‘Broaden resistance – strike now!’ and also placards, leaflets and a megaphone. Once again, SLP members travelled with strikers on their campaigning buses. From the very beginning of the dispute we have been at one of the garage depots in the Western part of Vienna and have been welcomed as serious supporters of the strike. Next Wednesday, we will hold a public rally with a leading bus workers’ shop steward, Wurm, and hopefully other bus workers.

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June 2002