On August 3rd, Solidarity Salzburg organised a public, open discussion about being rich and poor in Salzburg. The discussion took place in the historic city centre, just opposite the festival hall. A cake was drawn on the street, illustrating the distribution of wealth in Austria: while more than half of the cake belongs to the richest 10% of the population, the poorer 50% have to share 2,5% of Austria's wealth. For more than two hours there was a discussion with an international audience, in which people shared their personal experiences, debated possibilities to improve the current system, but also uttered fundamental criticism against the system. Thus participants had the possibility to raise their own awareness and to further develop their opinion.
Solidarity Salzburg asked citizens of Salzburg what they expect and hope for from the Austrian presidency of the EU-council. The idea is to make Salzburg's population heard, to raise awareness for European questions and to encourage people to think and discuss about these issues. Thus, we also feature differing opinions, which are not those of Solidarity Salzburg.
Franz*, 57, married, graduate engineer, was a highly specialised sales representative and could buy his own apartment, for which there are still payments due. His product loses value on the market and Franz is dismissed. He completes re-training to become an IT technician, but, despite his considerable efforts, does not find a new job. For some time, Franz has now received unemployment assistance. Without such assistance, he would have to mortgage his flat, or even sell it. Cuts in unemployment assistance mean cuts in social security.
Under the label “Unemployment Benefit new” the Austrian governmant plans cuts in unemployment assistance. The social security system in Austria would be weakened, as it happened in Germany with Hartz IV. Those affected would then be depended the needsbased minimum benefit system instead of unemployment assistance.
Sabine*, 37, single-mother of three children aged between 12 and 17, earned well in her time as a branch manager for a big company and saved money for the further education of her children. After getting divorced, she was no longer able to do her job, and now she receives unemployment assistance. Without such assistance, she would have to close the savings account intended for the future of her children.
Martin*, 46, is a civil engineer and works hard, to make money for his family and to ensure a good education for his children. However, at one point, it was too much and he could no longer endure the stress and got sick. After a long recovery, he was able to work part-time, but no longer finds a job in his line of work and now receives unemployment assistance. Without it, he'd have to sell his car.
Lets fight against such policies, as they can affect us all! - Solidarity Salzburg
Franz, Sabine and her children and Martin and his family have a right to social security
All names have been changed.