Labour Research January 2009

European news

Union head becomes minister

Rudolf Hundstorfer, the head of the Austrian union confederation the ÖGB, equivalent to the TUC, has been given the job of social and labour minister in the new Austrian government.

The government is a coalition of the social democratic SPÖ and the conservative ÖVP, and the appointment of a top trade unionist marks a return to past practices where senior trade union figures had leading government positions.

Austrian unions had fallen out of favour with government after a financial scandal in 2005, when BAWAG, a union-owned bank, made massive losses trading in derivatives in the US, which were initially hidden. However, last year unions were invited to work alongside employers to draw up plans for health care reform.