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Austrian Teachers To Join Strike Tuesday

Against Pension Plan

Dow Jones Newswires, May 12, 2003

Vienna - Schoolteachers planned a one-day strike for Tuesday to protest against proposed reforms to state pension benefits and the school curriculum.

The action is part of a wider labor protest against the pension reforms that began a week ago when the largest strike in decades brought much of the country's transport to a halt.

Tuesday's strike action has been called by the Austrian Federation of Labor to oppose the reforms that labor leaders claim will cut pension benefits by more than 30% in some cases.

The teachers' strike - that will hit state schools, as well as vocational ones - is also being called to protest against the streamlining of curriculums in some classes.

The federation plans to block streets in downtown Vienna late afternoon Tuesday, ahead of labor demonstrations at the capital's two major railroad stations.

President Thomas Klestil had a series of separate meetings with leaders of parliamentary parties on Monday, preparing for a round-table discussion under his chairmanship in an apparent effort to reduce tensions over the disputed pension reform.

The government of Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, chairman of the center-right Austrian People's Party, and Vice Chancellor Herbert Haupt, the leader of the rightist Freedom Party, is pressing parliament to approve the plans on June 4.

But opposition within Haupt's party, including resistance from former leader Joerg Haider, has prompted the vice chancellor to ask the president for mediation.

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