Saturday, March 22, 2014

Austria Picks Up Pieces Of Biggest Post-War Bankruptcy

Potential buyers go over Alpine Bau equipment to be auctioned off for the benefit of creditors.  Per

Fri., March 21, 2014
In a vast warehouse in the small town of Trumau near Vienna, some of the remnants of Austria's biggest post-war bankruptcy are laid out in thousands of neatly arranged lots. A handful of potential buyers pick over the piles of drills, saws, cables, buckets and pumps that are being auctioned off to make a few million euros for the creditors of Alpine Bau, a former unit of Spanish construction group FCC, Reuters reported. Thomas Prucha, a 42-year-old maintenance mechanic who spent half his life with the company until he was laid off last year, has signed up for a few weeks' work with the auction company and hopes to retrain as an electrical engineer after the sale. "I don't want to stay in this industry. It's getting worse and worse paid compared with other jobs," said Prucha, who will get about nine months' wages as a payoff. Prucha is one of around 4,900 construction workers in Austria who faced unemployment when FCC finally pulled the plug on Alpine last June, letting it file for insolvency with liabilities of up to 2.6 billion euros ($3.6 billion). Nine months on, however, all but 365 of have found new employment, according to the Austrian Employment Service. On a continent devastated by unemployment, the case demonstrates Austria's resilience to crisis - the Alpine republic has the lowest unemployment in the European Union, at 4.9 percent by the EU definition. A long tradition of cooperation between labour and employers in Austria - mindful of how mass unemployment helped fuel the rise of fascism - places great importance on getting people into jobs and keeping them there.

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