Austria: Trade unions launch "Corona hotline" to assist workers

26 March 2020 14:20

As part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Austrian Trade Union Confederation (ÖGB), the Gerwerkshaft Bau-Holz (GBH) and the Federal Chamber of Labor (AK) launched a “COVID-19 hotline” last 16 March to support and assist workers during the health crisis.  

The unions said that the hotline is operated by trade union specialists, who are logged into a central call centre where they receive calls from workers, who are seeking advice and information on the COVID-19. The hotline is open from Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Likewise, the unions launched an internet homepage which gives regular news and updates on COVID-19 to workers. The site also provides the names and phone numbers of volunteers who migrant workers could talk to on COVID-19. The migrant workers can choose from volunteers who speak Slovenian, Croatian, Turkish and Hungarian. 

Last week, it was reported that the Austrian government has decided to close all schools, non-essential retail businesses, restaurants and hotels. The unions said that they are pushing the federal government to also temporarily shut down all construction sites to ensure workers’ health and safety during the outbreak.  

The unions also said that the government has amended its law on short-time work compensations and collective bargaining agreements for the short-time work regulations and annual leave rules. However, they said that these rules will not be implemented to the construction workers’ annual leave and severance pay fund.