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Debate about seasonal workers has started

The Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) counters a statement of the head of the Austrian Chamber of Labour (AK) that seasonal workers would take away jobs from Austrians. The WKO said that it was a "sad debate" and "nonsense".

Siegfried Pichler, president of the AK in Salzburg and trade union official, refuses to take on more chefs and waiters from Non-EU countries. They would only come to Austria for the tourist seasons.

Mr Pichler instead suggested taking on workers from EU-countries in Eastern Europe such as Hungary.

The gastronomy and hotel industry, however, are warning that, without the help of these men and women, tourism in Austria would economically not be possible any more.

An example is the Moroccan chef Habib, who works as a chef in a popular hotel restaurant in Hintersee, Salzburg.

The man from North Africa started working with several contracts over the period of six months. He had to leave Austria for two months per year. Habib, who speaks good German, has already received a permission to stay for the whole year.

Habib’s boss Albert Ebner, who is also the spokesperson of the tourism department of the WKO, dismisses Mr Pichler’s proposal.

He thinks that seasonal workers from countries outside of the EU have become indispensable for Austria. Mr Ebner sees the cause for the problem in the fact that there are no more Austrian workers in qualified professions or unskilled labour.

The Social Partners agreed to hire 800 workers from Non-EU-countries for this year’s winter season.

Sepp Schellhorn, a restaurateur and member of the Austrian Association for Hotel Business, called Mr Pichler’s proposal a "xenophobic nonsense".

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