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Put an End to the Potemkin Village “Second Labour Market”!

Submitted by Aktive Arbeits… on Tue, 20.09.2016 - 23:00

Active Unemployed Austria’ demand the abolition of the special privilege zone in the quagmire of the Public Employment Service AMS

(Vienna, 20th September 2016) Thanks to technological rationalization, globalization and neoliberal policy many well-paid jobs are destroyed and ever-increasing casualized part-time jobs that do not secure the livelihood are being created.

In the past years the expansion of the “second labour market” (socioeconomic places of work and non-profit employment projects = workfare programmes) which is basically not provided for in the Austrian law was recommended as an ostensible expedient for the increasing mass unemployment. At the “job fair” which has taken place today in Vienna and which was visited by companies of the “second labour market”, they even served up with CEO of the AMS, Petra Draxl, and the Viennese councilor Tanja Wehsely, in order to make the rather lousy results of this expensive substitute act under the title “jobs for everyone” seem better than they are. With 180,000 gainfully unemployed people roughly (the number of unreported cases included) the few thousand projects can hardly achieve anything, even if they were really good and effective. That is why the problems lie in the permanent crisis of the neoliberally worsened capitalism.

The basic labour union “Aktive Arbeitslose Austria” as a self-organization of affected people therefore flatly refuses the creation of a special working zone because this is being financed by means of insurance contributions and taxes largely by the employees themselves.

Many problem areas created by the second labour market:

Among other things there are problems and illegal acts in the “work camp” of the neoliberal regime of activation and requirement to work:

  • Assignment by the threat of existential destruction by means of benefit sanctions

  • Fixing of a date for a job interview by the AMS, from time to time socioeconomic places of work and non-profit employment project companies are prescribed whom they have to take (violation of paragraph 3, Labour Market Promotion Act).

  • Circumvention of regular collective agreements of trade and industry by an unethical, low lump-sum payment according to the “regulation of workforce in transit” (the collective agreement of the Professional Association of Employers for Health and Social Professions = ‘BAGS-KV’ or ‘Kollektivvertrag der Berufsvereinigung von Arbeitgebern für Gesundheits- und Sozialberufe’ in German; the collective agreement of the Professional Association of the Employers of Private Educational Institutions = ‘BABE-KV’ or ‘Kollektivvertrag der Berufsvereinigung der ArbeitgeberInnen Privater Bildungseinrichtungen’ in German, the collective agreement of the ‘Caritas’ which is a welfare organization) without credit of previous working or office hours, qualifications, industrial sector, use, etc. Even if a commercial enterprise has a trading licence and is a member of the Economic Chamber!

  • Very often there is only part-time work for a few months not securing one’s livelihood.

  • There are often unlawful and harassing contents in the contracts of employment and rules and regulations pertaining to them like unannounced breath tests for alcohol, deprivation of earnings, supervision by a doctor of the company in the case of illness, etc.

  • There is often work in the lowest field of qualification which is hardly reasonable for the mainly older workers for health reasons, the promised qualification very often does not take place, human beings are deskilled to a state of unskilled labour.

  • Compulsory “care relating to social education” which is far beyond the frame of a usual employer-employee relationship. This is why there is also stigmatization.

  • The passing on of personal data (socio-educational care) from an employer-employee relationship, which not only violates the data protection act but also the employer’s obligations to provide for the welfare of his employees and the European Human Rights Convention.

  • No own representation. If there is a works committee, it rather represents the interests of the “key workforce” and of the company, but not of the “workforce in transit”. To this day people out of work don’t have a democratic say at the AMS, although such would follow from the ILO recommendation 202 via a national basic protection and a right of audience is provided for in the ILO convention 122.

  • Work places on the “second labour market” are allowed to pay one percent of the sponsorship of the PES for payroll costs to their umbrella organizations and may thus finance entrepreneurial lobbying at the expense of us, the employees – although this is not provided for in the law. Unemployment action groups get nothing although the sponsorship of “unemployment self-aid projects” and “unemployment self-aid companies” is provided for in the government bill of the Labour Market Service Act!

  • Above all: the “second labour market” is a futile waste of money because in the following five years the net effect amounts merely to a plus of 14 days of unsponsored employment (2.8 days per year!), but the number of days of sponsored employment rises by 228 days (45.6 days per year). Some projects even have a NEGATIVE effect on further employment!1 The “second labour market” is no “starting point into the first labour market” but a poverty trap!

Demands of ‘Active Unemployed Austria’

We claim that we can usefully apply our high potential by way of freely chosen, full work2 that is as productive as possible and commensurate with our qualification and experience as well as decently paid, according to the Human Rights Conventions signed and joined by Austria!

  • Abolition of the sanctions contrary to human rights! The voluntary participation after previous and comprehensive information is the simplest quality assurance. Research shows that the use of socioeconomic places of work and non-profit employment projects rather lies in the soft factors like the performing of an action, the strengthening of self-confidence, the building-up of social contacts, etc. which can take its full effect only on the basis of voluntariness. What is more, sanctions have severe and negative repercussions on the people concerned!

  • No special privilege zone “second labour market” in which employers’ rights are weakened: regulation for workforce in transit only as a minimum standard. No passing on of personal data from the employer-employee relationship to the PES! No prescription by the AMS who has to be taken up by socioeconomic workplaces and non-profit employment projects. No contracts of employment and the set of rules pertaining to it which restrict the rights of employees!

  • An independent representation of gainfully unemployed people, separate works committee members for the unemployed for people in work projects. Financing should be like the one in the umbrella organization of socioeconomic workplaces and non-profit employment projects: one percent of the grants for the active labour market policy.

  • Strict separation of employer-employee relationship and additional care which is based on voluntariness. No passing on of data from this care to the AMS!

  • Put an end to the orientation towards deficiencies and the pathologization of gainfully unemployed people. Fight the causes of gainful unemployment in the troube-causing economic system instead of further humiliating the human beings “sorted out” by the economy in a culprit-victim reversal. Stop the ideology of activation which makes human beings even more sick and more shattered in cycles of putative “integration chains” interspersed with force and violence!


1 Eppel 2014] Eppel Rainer, Horvath Thomas u.A.: Evaluierung von sozialen Unternehmen im Kontext neuer Herausforderungen, wifo und prospect, Vienna, 2014, p. 45 and 68.

2 “Right of freely chosen work”, abolition of hard labour:

* UN Human Rights Declaration 1948, article 23 [Federal Law Gazette 120/1956]

* International pact on economic, social and cultural rights, article 6 [Federal Law Gazette 590/1978]

* European social charter [Federal Law Gazette 1969/460]

* European charter of fundamental right, article 14 [gazette of the EU, no. C 130]

* ILO convention 122 [Federal Law Gazette 1972/355], ILO convention 39, ILO convention 105, ILO recommendation 202

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