Protest wave against new Austrian government rises

VIENNA Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:51am EST

1 of 8. Protesters display banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in Vienna December 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

Related Topics

VIENNA (Reuters) - A wave of protests against Austria's new government escalated as tens of thousands of civil servants demonstrated in Vienna on Wednesday for better pay and an end to a hiring freeze.

The centrist government sworn in this week had promised continuity and to protect living standards, but immediately provoked the ire of several groups by scrapping the science ministry and taking a hard line on balancing the budget.

Police said 40,000 civil servants took part in the demonstration in front of Vienna's imperial Hofburg Palace, angered by a below-inflation pay offer after a pay freeze last year, and a stop to hiring that has depleted staff numbers.

The demonstration followed large protests this week by egg-throwing students and school pupils angry at the demise of the science ministry and the start of new school-leaver tests.

"The government in general is totally focused on saving money," said Eveline Ostermann, a 52-year-old leader of the financial civil servants' union who had travelled from Austria's second city, Graz, for the demonstration.

"We're losing more and more staff and at the same time we have to do more with less money," she said. "At some point, the party's over."

Austria's 200,000 tenured civil servants attract envy for the security of their positions and pensions, as well as pay structures that guarantee them increases every two years independently of across-the-board pay negotiations.

But the trade unions organizing the protest highlighted their lowly paid members, who include janitors, kindergarten assistants and rubbish collectors.

Austria has the European Union's second-highest economic growth rate and the bloc's lowest unemployment.

But voters in September elections, unhappy with political stagnation, business corruption and increasing European integration, almost threw out the centrist coalition partners who have dominated post-war Austrian politics.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (11)
Worldwide between extreme capitalism (the top 5%) and its counterpart, the extreme civil service — including, coincidentally middle and senior-grade military and police — the middle and lower classes have begun to encounter a rebirth of economic problems not seen for at least two or three decades.
As the situation deteriorates, both the wealthy and the civil service would be extremely wise to expect less of the public wealth, contribute more financially and otherwise, or face a new type of Communism that actually subscribes to that political philosophy in its purest and kindest form which could, if done properly, adopts the best attributes of all the world’s religions, updated of course. in order to significantly shrink the human population numbers via mandatory birth control that echoes China’s one-child policy — but done properly in order to ensure all people have a decent standard of living.

Dec 18, 2013 2:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Worldwide between extreme capitalism (the top 5%) and its counterpart, the extreme civil service — including, coincidentally middle and senior-grade military and police — the middle and lower classes have begun to encounter a rebirth of economic problems not seen for at least two or three decades.
As the situation deteriorates, both the wealthy and the civil service would be extremely wise to expect less of the public wealth, contribute more financially and otherwise, or face a new type of Communism that actually subscribes to that political philosophy in its purest and kindest form which could, if done properly, adopts the best attributes of all the world’s religions, updated of course. in order to significantly shrink the human population numbers via mandatory birth control that echoes China’s one-child policy — but done properly in order to ensure all people have a decent standard of living.

Dec 18, 2013 2:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Worldwide between extreme capitalism (the top 5%) and its counterpart, the extreme civil service — including, coincidentally middle and senior-grade military and police — the middle and lower classes have begun to encounter a rebirth of economic problems not seen for at least two or three decades.
As the situation deteriorates, both the wealthy and the civil service would be extremely wise to expect less of the public wealth, contribute more financially and otherwise, or face a new type of Communism that actually subscribes to that political philosophy in its purest and kindest form which could, if done properly, adopts the best attributes of all the world’s religions, updated of course. in order to significantly shrink the human population numbers via mandatory birth control that echoes China’s one-child policy — but done properly in order to ensure all people have a decent standard of living.

Dec 18, 2013 2:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.