Where are you going, that's quiet

Working hours, where are you going

The working time conference of the GPA-djp

4th September 2019. The Working Hours Act, which the former turquoise-blue government left behind, has been in force for a year and allows for the 12-hour day and the 60-hour week. On this occasion, the GPA-djp invites you to an event at the AK Wien's education center.

9:30 a.m. in the large hall of the AK Bildungszentrum. Above the podium, brass-colored gears rotate on the screen in the middle of which a sign welcomes the participants. The rows of chairs are slowly filling up. One participant taps into his laptop to quickly answer an email. Another telephones gesticulating wildly with the plug in his ear to clarify a works council question. A works councilor photographs the event with her smartphone in order to send the photo to a colleague who unfortunately could not come. A small group discusses which topics should be addressed at the next meeting. The activities of those present are a multifaceted mirror of how working time is used - one could also call it “work intensification”.

9:40 am at the reception desk. A visitor, obviously already familiar with household usage, steers purposefully towards the counter in the foyer, where colleagues greet those arriving with laptops and information materials. When asked “Good morning. Where is the registration list to sign? ”He gets the answer“ Today you don't have to register anywhere. ”With a little astonishment, he notes:“ Aha, today hamma reduction in bureaucracy. ”Then he grabs the GPA-djp- Brochures the latest "gliding instead of slipping - design requirements and practical tips for flexible working hours" with which he saves the waiting time until the start of the event.

    10:04 am in the great hall. Agnes Streissler-Führer, member of the management of the GPA-djp, takes a position behind the lectern and opens the event. Visitors are still rushing in from the foyer, so that the 360 ​​seats are almost completely occupied when David Mum begins his lecture. The head of the basic area of ​​the GPA-djp reminds of the development of the working time law, which - contrary to the usual approach - was whipped by the National Council to the exclusion of social partners and experts. In retrospect, in response to sharp protests from the trade unions, improvements were made (e.g. the possibility of compensating for full days was created), but this does not change the maximum possible working hours, which have been massively increased. The propaganda from the government is also easy to refute on closer inspection. For example, the “introduction of the 4-day week” was announced in a publicly effective manner, but those who look for it anchored in the law will look in vain. (It has been de facto possible since 1997 anyway.) “It is not for nothing that the Federation of Industrialists has called for the extension of working hours under the chapter entitled 'Debureaucratisation'. But the much-invoked dismantling of bureaucratic hurdles that the Working Hours Act allegedly represents is the wrong label. “Says David Mum dryly. "Working Hours Act and Employee Protection Act are not bureaucratic hurdles, but protect employees from unfair distribution of working hours, they protect against accidents and illnesses."

    Laws are not bureaucratic hurdles but protection (David Mum)

    The next speaker will seamlessly take on the subject of health protection. The health psychologist Gerhard Blasche, diagnosed: longer working hours in no way lead to more productivity. All studies come to this conclusion. Gerhard Blasche brought a clear statement with him, whereby as a former physics student he seems to have retained a certain preference for formulas:

    Factors such as personal creative freedom, enjoyment of work or strenuous physical and psychological framework conditions are also decisive for how tiring work is or how productive someone can work. “However,” Gerhard Blasche restricts “twelve hours a day, nobody can stand that for a long time. Even those who really enjoy their work get tired sooner or later. "

    Even those who enjoy their work a lot get tired at some point (Gerhard Blasche)

    In the afternoon, a works councilwoman, who was working 12-hour shifts at short notice - also at the request of the employees - confirms this scientific finding: “I was very worried every time my colleagues came into work after a 12-hour shift Climbed the car and drove home in the morning traffic. When they got home safely, I was very happy. Fortunately, our management also quickly realized that these working hours are dangerous and also do not help economically. Production in the foundry has not improved as a result. I would never agree to something like that again!

    Johannes Gärtner, scientist and company founder, is next to march the few steps onto the podium. As one of the few in German-speaking countries, his institute “Ximes” still conducts research on the relationship between work and health. He can therefore fall back on a well-stocked “knowledge rucksack” with a mixture of practice in business consulting and theory at the university. He, too, can confirm: the longer the daily working hours, the greater the lack of concentration, dissatisfaction and the risk of accidents.

    Most of all, the following drastic comparison sticks with all participants: "If you want to take full advantage of the new Working Hours Act, you come into an accident risk area that is as high as in the case of heavy alcoholism.“Gärtner's conclusion: If the organization of working hours were based on scientific studies, a 30- to 35-hour week with flextime would be the best choice.

    A 30- to 35-hour week with self-determined flexitime would be ideal (Johannes Gärtner)

    And what does the labor inspectorate actually do? They're responsible for checking the working hours, aren't they? Anna Ritzberger-Moser, Section Head in the Ministry of Social Affairs and thus Head of the Labor Inspectorate, puts it in more concrete terms: The Labor Inspectorate only checks what the law specifies and imposes administrative penalties (i.e. the Working Hours Act or the Employee Protection Act), whereas collective agreements or company agreements Not fall within the remit of the labor inspectorates. "Unfortunately, this often leads to false expectations," admits the lawyer.

    Ritzberger-Moser sees a major challenge of the new legal situation in the fact that the scope has been changed; Employees with “significant independent decision-making power whose total working hours are not measured or set in advance” were excluded. “It is still difficult to interpret,” the head of the labor inspectorate states, “because this group of people is not clearly delimited and there is still no case law on it. Although I can already say that the new definition is interpreted by some employers ... "she's looking for a suitable word," let's call it 'interesting'. "The good news for those present is:" At the labor inspectorate, excess working hours can also be reported anonymously become. Get in touch with us. We will follow up on your leads. "

    We check in the companies whether the Working Hours Act is being adhered to (Anna Ritzberger-Moser)

    September 4, 2019 1 p.m.. Eight works council members from all branches and regions of Austria gather on the - fortunately sufficiently large - podium to report on their experiences with the year-old legal situation. Now it's getting really exciting; How is the extension of working hours received in the industries and companies?

    The chairman of the central works council at Billa, who helped negotiate the collective bargaining agreement, reports visibly proud of the introduction of the 4-day week. This distribution of working hours is gladly accepted by the many part-time workers. “This is now even recognized by employers as an advantage. It's hard to believe. One of the employers was present at the KV negotiations, he was not enthusiastic about this idea with the 4-day week, ”the man chats from the sewing box. “And then he opened a new branch in the country and no employees applied. It was only when he advertised the 4-day week in the advertisement that some people were interested in the job. "

    The 4-day week in the collective bargaining agreement is a win for everyone

    In the collective agreement of the Austrian social economy, a new way of dealing with time was also negotiated, reports a works councilor and collective agreement negotiator from the industry. However, not in terms of weekly working hours, where many would like a significant reduction in normal working hours, and not in terms of working hours per se, but in terms of leisure time. After a tough struggle, there has now been the sixth week of vacation after 20 years since 2019 (instead of 25 in the same company as provided for in the Vacation Act), whereby the achievement is that the vacation days are gradually increasing: after five years there is one more vacation day , a second after ten years, etc. For an industry with great physical and psychological demands, this balancing of the workload with more free time is more than justified.

    The collective agreement of the social economy in Austria brings the sixth week of vacation earlier

    The ground staff at Vienna Airport has also been looking forward to the sixth week of vacation since 2018, which is covered by adding a 40-hour week and the resulting time credits.

    Unicredit offers different and flexible working time models. Works council chairman Adi Lehner can vividly add ergonomic findings about the 4-hour week: “By extending the opening times in the branches, we thought it would make sense to offer new working time models in this area. The 4-day week was an attempt to give employees more blocked time off. The work in the branches is very exhausting due to the many standing times and the high number of customers. The colleagues were completely exhausted after the 9-hour days and said that they only needed the whole Friday to recover. This model was shelved by most of them after a few months. "Adi Lehner looks worriedly around the group" We have had better experiences with a reduction in working hours, albeit with a simultaneous reduction in wages. "His face brightens up again. “We have had a model since 2015 in which you gain days off by reducing working hours. For example, if you reduce by 20%, you get 12 days off. How many percent you reduce is freely selectable and there is a right of return. Over a thousand employees have switched and hardly anyone has returned. It didn't matter whether young or old. This model has also led to more part-time work for men. "

    At Unicredit, employees can voluntarily shorten their working hours - and they do

    At Plansee, a Tyrolean metalworking company, you can choose to compensate yourself for up to six days a year. This provision in the company agreement is made possible by the corresponding collective agreement and thus limits the Working Hours Act, which unfortunately does not clearly define itself on this point.

    Colleagues from the audience also come forward and report from their companies. A flexitime model was introduced at a regional office of the Raiffeisenkasse, which enables employees to glide for up to twelve hours with core times. Anything over eight hours is worked voluntarily and - even the works council was surprised - almost never used. What does that bring? "I now have to discuss working hours exceeded, overtime and that sort of thing with the boss a lot less," says the works council happily.

    So there are very different ways of organizing working hours based on social partnership in Austria, depending on what makes sense for an industry and a company and is enforceable.

    Another colleague has taken a position at one of the hall microphones and comments on the subject of exceeding working hours. “That is paid out of the postage cash! With such a violation of the law the employer gets away with it far too cheap. Nobody cares! ”Ventes his anger at the price of exceeding working hours.

    Companies must be asked to pay if they exceed their working hours (a works council)

    The managing director of the GPA-djp Barbara Teiber, who finally holds the microphone in her hands, thinks a lot of a more efficient punishment. “Unfortunately, it is currently the case that we found in a recent study by Deloitte that the 12-hour day is a fact for a third of all respondents. But 12 hour days make you sick in the long run. The Working Time Extension Act urgently needs a correction. We need to limit the number of consecutive 12-hour days. We need more predictability and self-determination. And ... "the speaker pauses for a moment" ... the co-determination of works councils in the organization of working hours must be anchored in law again! And that alone is not enough for us, we have to impose heavy penalties for violations, which also hurt the company. "After this catalog of union demands, Barbara Teiber once again urgently addresses those present:" In order to enforce all of this, we need visible evidence for our strength. And therefore my request: support us and see that we become even more! "

    We have to repair the law on extension of working hours (Barbara Teiber)

    September 4, 2019 2:45 p.m.. After the last powerful clap from the audience, the brass-colored gears stand still on the screen above the podium. The colleagues leave the large hall and stroll on the sunny terrace, have coffee and cinnamon rolls in the foyer, exchange impressions from the event with colleagues, leaf through the brochures of the basic department on fair working hours, flextime and to work anywhere, go to their cars in the garage, rush back to their offices or enjoy the afternoon autumn sun.

    More posts on the topic

    Employee participation, works council, health, collective agreement. Bookmark.