Right-wing outcry over foreign ski instructors

A right-wing newspaper has expressed concerns over safety on the slopes and wage dumping as more and more ski instructors on pistes in the Austrian Alps are foreigners.The market-leading Kronen Zeitung, which sells almost three million copies a day, cites an unnamed critic, who claims that foreign ski instructors can be found “standing around on the slope holding a map”.The daily also claims that many of the ski teachers coming to work in the cold season in Austria from abroad would do just a one-day training programme while Austrian ski instructors have to undergo extensive theoretical and practical tests.The Kronen Zeitung¬ís report has it that around a third of the 6,000 ski instructors working in Austria this winter are foreigners, most of them Germans and Dutch. Germany and the Netherlands are the most important markets for the Austrian winter tourism industry.The Viennese newspaper also writes that a soaring number of ski teachers from Eastern Europe (EE) has been registered. The daily has campaigned for “shut borders” to stop the “wave of organised crime gangs from Eastern Europe” to Austria for many years. It now claims that the alleged share of around 30 per cent of foreigners among ski instructors working in Austria may reduce the average income in the sector.One out of three winter sport overnight stays in Europe are made in Austria, according to a survey by Viennese researchers Manova. The agency also found that every skier coming to the country spent an average 104 Euros per day during their stay.Around 56.1 million overnight stays were registered in Austria in the past winter season, 1.3 per cent more than between November 2008 and March 2009.The debate over foreigners teaching people to ski in Austria may merge with the ongoing discussion over the rising number of seasonal workers in Austrian tourism.An overall 7,500 seasonal staff from non-European Union (EU) states are currently working in various sectors of the Austrian economy such as tourism and agriculture. Italy employs around 80,000 non-EU staff while Hungary registers fewer than 1,000. Both of these countries, which border Austria, are EU members.The number of people from EU member countries working under temporary contracts in Austria is much higher. Germans especially¬† are taking the opportunity to take on work in restaurants, bars and hotels across Austria in both the summer and the winter season. Some media have accused them of taking away jobs from Austrians, while tourism industry officials pointed out that Germans and other foreigners are more likely to take on comparably badly paid seasonal work.