Austrian industry frets over crashing demand

Austria’s commerce chamber Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (WKO) has expressed concern over the crash of demand and orders for commodities in the country, Kallanish notes.

“We see orders declining by as much as 30%, and there is no relief in sight,” says Markus Ritter, representative of WKO’s department for mining and steel, and managing director of rebar mill Marienhütte. He speaks of a “troublesome development in our industry”.

Ritter’s assessment comes on the occasion of the upcoming collective bargaining for wages at mining and steel companies, in which Ritter heads the side of employers. On the labour side, companies are also hurting from wage increases of close to 10% since the previous collective bargaining round, he notes.

“This big surge of wage costs in comparison to our European competitors means a troublesome loss of competitiveness,” Ritter says. At the same time, the steel industry is driven by high energy costs and the technological transition towards low-emission steelmaking. “We need to develop new ways of production, make them economically feasible, and stay competitive at the same time,” he observes. “These challenges can only be coped with when we agree with the unions on a conservative wage agreement.”

He emphasised that the paramount aim of his department in the negotiations is the preservation of Austria as a location for profitable industries.

Christian Koehl Germany