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Gewerkschaftsbund, Österreichischer, ÖGB#

Austrian Federation of Trade Unions, (Oesterreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, OeGB), democratic interest group of employed persons in Austria, founded in April 15, 1945; voluntary membership. All-party association of 14 (originally 16, from 1978 15, since 1991, 14) trade unions with partisan groups representing the Social-Democratic Party (FSG), the People´s Party (since 1953 the Group of Christian Unionists, FCG), the Communist Party (1952 "Gewerkschaftliche Einheit", divided into Communist Group and Leftist Bloc in 1974) and, since 1967 the Freedom-Party Group. These groups maintain close links with their political parties. The FSG is the most numerous group (1979: 39 of 54 members of the Federal Board, as against 8 members of the FCG, 2 of the Communist Group, 1 of the "Gewerkschaftliche Einheit", 1 of the Freedom Party group, 1 independent) and holds the top positions.

At least every 4 years the highest body of the OeGB, the Federal Congress (Bundeskongress) is convened by the Executive Board (1948, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995). Members of the Federal Congress are representatives of the individual trade unions, members of the executive board and the control commission. A governing committee, consisting of a president (1945-1959 J. Boehm, 1959-1963, F. Olah. 1963-1987, A. Benya, since 1987 F. Verzetnitsch), 3 vice-presidents (since 1979: 5 men and 1 woman), and 2 senior executives, deals with day-to-day business.

The OeGB also has provincial executive bodies and district organisations. They are appointed on the basis of works council elections; there are no direct elections. The OeGB is highly centralised. It forms part of the Social Partnership and, owing to its numerical strength, has considerable influence on economic and social policy in Austria. Numerous Ministers for Social Affairs have come from its ranks (K. Maisel, A. Proksch, R. Haeuser, A. Dallinger, J. Hesoun, F. Hums) and so have other ministers (F. Olah, H. Ettl) and Presidents of the Nationalrat (A. Benya, R. Poeder). Its economic power is considerable in that it holds shares in many business enterprises (52.67% of the Bank fuer Arbeit und Wirtschaft, 100% of the RUEFA-Reisen travel agency, 100% of EDV GmbH, OeGB Publishing GmbH, Elbemuehl Druck und Verlag publishers etc.) Its political influence is great (many of its officers are also Members of Parliament); it stands for tolerance, plays an active role in education (especially the training of skilled workers - in 1968: 68 Gewerbeschulen) and is involved in cultural projects. Total expenditures in 1993 amounted to 2.5 billion ATS.

Until the 1980s, about 60% of blue and white-collar workers were members of the OeGB (about 52% in 1993). Even though the absolute number of employed persons has been steadily increasing and more people have joined the OeGB, the percentage of OeGB members (compared to the overall workforce of Austrian businesses) has receded. This has been due to crises in certain branches of industry (e.g. the chemical industry, print and paper industry, textile manufacturing).

The OeGB is one of the founding members of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the FCG is member of the International Association of Christian Trade Unions and the Communist Group a member of World Federation of Trade Unions.