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What is wrong with the GKK, asks Andreas Unterberger

The Way The GKK Are Destroying Jobs

As the Austrian Times reported on Friday, a group of businessmen fed up at the way companies are being squeezed not only by red tape but also by ever newer taxes have taken to the internet to try and build up pressure for change.

Chief among the complaints of the group are the investigations by the Austrian health service that often result in massive charges in the case of any irregularities that are driving firms out of business.

In Austria, the health service is paid for by the so-called Krankenkassen. People in employment pay contributions that go to the Krankenkassen which in turn provide health insurance for their members. Which Krankenkassen a person is a member of is dependent on the geographical location and what job they do.

Yet in November of last year Austria's top political commentator Andreas Unterberger had warned that the was a serious risk that jobs were being killed off by allowing a free hand.

His comment is repeated here for the first time in English:

For two years now something has been going on unnoticed by the general public and certainly not checked by the politicians. That something is the way the Krankenkassen (GKK) are slowly eradicating jobs, businesses and the value of Austria as a business location. That at least is the end result of their pursuit of people who voluntarily register to be employed under the freie Dienstnehmer contract as business entrepreneurs – who are now being forced by the GKK to become salaried employees.

By changing the terms of the conditions under which they are employed, it means that more money needs to be paid to the krankenkasse in taxes and social benefits. Of course, those who are employed have been paying taxes and social benefits, but they've been paying it to the SVA, which is for people who are independently insured, and not the GKK. The result is that ever-growing numbers of companies are leaving the country, closing, or alternatively giving their contract to people employed abroad.

The damage from one month to the next is constantly growing. The business hostile employment tribunal courts back up the GKK, and the Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer or WKA) like the SVA where these people were previously paying contributions are powerless to do anything about it. The reason is of course that the ruling left wing Social Democrats (SPO) that doesn't even recognise their right to be consulted.

Of course the civil servants involved in these witch hunting sessions are playing an active role. The krankenkassen has after all two powerful arguments to carry on with them. First of all they are in competition and want to remain the number one among the social insurers in this case at the expense of the SVA. And secondly, these new members can also be acquired as trade union members.

A good example of the bitter consequences involves a market research company in Austria that was told its interviewers could only be expensive salaried employees. In most cases it employed students or housewives who used to work in the evenings to get a bit of extra money on the side. In addition, there were many different types of contract, but that makes absolutely no difference to the GKK staff. The result of this terror attack is that the company no longer employs people in Austria – and instead employs people in Germany. And that is increasingly where the business is ending up.

It is a trend especially noticeable in the IT area and among ski teachers. The result is that IT contracts are going abroad, and in Vorarlberg ski schools are closing up because they can no longer afford to employ staff.

Even small firms are being ruined, such as the news agency Central European News, that from Vienna sends English language news around the world, which is now moving its operation to Eastern Europe.

A Salzburg firm employed in the service industry has moved to Germany, they had Austria-wide 200 independently employed staff, all of whom were told they had to be employed as salaried staff. The result is that all lost their jobs.

The really scandalous thing about this witch-hunt is that even people who are qualified independent consultants running their own business are being forced to become salaried staff. And that forcing them to do this is attached with horrendous additional demands for back payment, sometimes which can go back up to 5 years.

Even more scandalous is the fact identified by one Chamber of Commerce functionary that only certain firms were targeted. Companies who happily align themselves with the left side of the political spectrum can avoid any difficulties. All they need to do is make a big play of the way they are promoting women at work and how the trade unions are an active part of their business.

- See more at: http://www.andreas-unterberger.at/2013/11/wie-die-krankenkasse-zahllose-jobs-killt/?s=sva#sthash.g9vcHiZY.dpuf

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