Speaking today from Vienna after meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer has lashed out against the Chancellor's plans to launch attacks on working time standards and social rights.

“The right-wing conservative government of Chancellor Kurz promises a 'Europe that protects' for its Council Presidency*. In fact, it has already started attacks on EU social protections!”

“The next attack by the government is aimed at destroying the eight-hour day. The EU allows a maximum weekly working time of 48 hours. That is too much already for people who need to balance work and private life. However, Austrians are set to be expected to work up to 12 hours a day and up to 60 hours a week. That is a scandal! We will fully support workers and their families in defending themselves against these attacks by the right-wing government.”

“With the planned indexation of child benefits for EU citizens, the government is violating equal treatment and attacking the well-being of families. Eastern Europeans working in Austria, in particular, whose children remain in their countries of origin, would receive fewer benefits than their Austrian colleagues. Meanwhile they will pay the same taxes and social contributions in Austria. They would effectively be downgraded to second-class citizen status.”

“Attacks by the Austrian Council Presidency on social rights can be defeated if people across the EU resist together and cooperate across borders. We want the EU to become more social instead of attacking the common good. Protection of family well-being and shorter working hours: this is the right way forward!”

*Austria will assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 July until 31 December 2018.

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