- Initially organized as economic self-help groups to tide people over in periods of unemployment, physical disability, and the like, trade unions were a by-product of Austrian industrialization in the 19th century. A workers’ committee established during the Revolutions of 1848 was the first to make formal demands for laws governing conditions of labor. Laws regulating freedom of assembly and freedom of association progressively relaxed after 1867. The founding of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party in 1888–1889 turned the labor movement into a serious and lasting political force, not only in the Austrian lands but throughout the Habsburg Empire, particularly in Bohemia. During the First Austrian Republic, all of the political parties or factions sponsored some form of ideologically compatible trade union organization.Following World War II, a central Austrian Federation of Trade Unions (Österreichische Gewerkschaftsbund) was formed with social democratic, conservative, and communist factions. Charged with speaking for the economic, social, and cultural interests of all wage labor in Austria, it was one of several stratagems developed to promote the social harmony that the Second Republic required to get back on its economic and political feet. Over the years, however, the Federation has become heavily associated with the Socialist Party of Austria and its financial resources.
Historical dictionary of Austria. Paula Sutter Fichtner. 2014.
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