Austria: ‘Platform for Fighting and Democratic Trade Unions’ launched

Over 60 people, mainly trade union activists and Works’ Council members from Vienna, and the neighbouring provinces of Lower Austria and Upper Austria, took part in the first conference of the “Platform for fighting and democratic trade unions,” on October 13. This meeting firmly expressed its solidarity with the striking workers at Austrian airlines (AUA) and the railways (Ã-BB), both attacked by the government, management and the media. It passed motions denouncing the media “hate campaign” against workers and called upon the Ã-GB (trade union federation) to support the AUA strikers.

On the podium sat Robert Worm, national Works’ Council Chair at Postbus; Peter Gugerell, a Works’ Council member at AUA-Bord; Barbara Nowikow, from the UBG (Independent Education trade union) and Harald Mahrer (Sozialistische LinksPartei, the SLP – CWI in Austria) – a platform not tied to any of the existing established political groupings in the trade unions. The discussion covered current experiences from labour disputes as well as strategy and a goal of transforming the trade unions into fighting and democratic organisations.

Workers from different industries and the current internal union political groupings have to be brought together in order to organise resistance and practical solidarity. Thus pressure can be built on the Ã-GB leadership, which does not carry out its responsibilities. The Ã-GB leaders Verzetnitsch and co. have so far capitulated before the attacks of government and employers. Also needed is a fundamental alternative to social cuts and wage reductions.

The policy of the Ã-GB leadership in the last months showed that its hopes for “negotiated solutions” and its lack of resolve have led to defeats for the workers’ movement. Fundamental social and democratic rights are under bombardment: employers and government want to generally lower the standard of living of the employees so that they will be able to secure their profits in a time of economic international crises of capitalism. In order to be able to accomplish these objectives they directly attack the trade unions.

In the case of the recent AUA strike this meant a scandalous “court injunction” against the workers and management claims for “legal damages” from the unions. In order to stop these attacks, a complete change of course by the Ã-GB is necessary. The rebuilding of a fighting and democratic tradition in the Ã-GB will depend considerably on the development of this platform and its active supporters.

The Socialist Left Party (Sozialistische LinksPartei, SLP) initiated this Platform. We welcome the fact that colleagues from different workplaces and parts of the workers’ movement came together to discuss and act. In the course of working together and practical experience it will become accepted which methods are most effective for the entire workforce and the unemployed.

For more information (in German) on the Platform go to:,

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October 2003