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Press review Stories making the Swiss papers

Many women go part-time but later receive lower pensions


The Sunday newspapers in Switzerland - the first of the New Year - are concerned with looming job cuts and women’s pensions. The perennial topic of asylum is also mentioned.

Job cuts

According to the SonntagsZeitungexternal link, one in three companies is planning to slash staff due to fears over red tape associated with the mass immigration initiative. This initiative, approved in February 2014, aimed to limit immigrants from the European Union – a move which set Switzerland at odds with the EU. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but does have bilateral treaties with the 28-member bloc.

On December 16, it was announced that a way out of the impasse had been found: parliament approved a revision of the immigration law which avoids quotas on EU immigrants but instead prioritises Swiss job seekers. 

The newspaper said that three in ten of the CEOs it had surveyed said they could foresee job cuts and moving operations abroad as a result of increased bureaucracy resulting from the prioritising of Swiss workers. For example, firms have to tell job centres about about free positions, if unemployment in the region and sector is above average. They will also have to invite jobseekers suggested by job centres to an interview.

Mass immigration views – unchanged?

For its part, the SonntagsBlickexternal link reported that the Swiss population would, according to a survey, vote in favour of the mass immigration initiative if asked again. The result would be tight: 47% in the survey would say yes and 43% no, with 10% undecided. The result of the real vote was 50.3% in favour of the initiative.

However, those polled said they wanted to maintain the free movement of people agreement with the EU - a key element of the first package of bilateral accords between the two parties. The conservative right Swiss People’s Party has said that it will launch a new initiative “as soon as possible” against the free movement of people.

Women’s pensions – lower than men’s

The SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche reported on how women on average receive 37% less pension than men. This is the equivalent of around CHF20,000 ($19.650) a year. The reasons for this is that many women take career breaks when they have children or go part-time. Many women don’t realise that reducing their work percentage drastically has a big effect on their pensions and are only confronted with this during a divorce or following the death of a partner, the newspaper quotes an expert as saying. Another report recommends staying at 70% when working part time.

Asylum statistics

Asylum also made the news, with the NZZ am Sonntagexternal link reporting that around 27,500 people requested asylum in Switzerland in 2016, which is 12,000 or 30% fewer than in 2015. However, these figures come from a source speaking to the newspaper and are not yet confirmed officially. One of the reasons for the drop is that Swiss border guards at the country’s southern border are sending back asylum seekers to Italy due to tighter asylum rules, the papers says.

The Schweiz am Sonntagexternal link said that by the end of November 2016, 8,166 asylum seekers in the asylum process had “disappeared”, a record number, it said, referring to statistics from the State Secretariat for Migration. A spokesman quoted in the newspaper said that “the greatest part” of those who had disappeared had left Switzerland. They had been informed of the low likelihood of being able to stay, he added.  The State Secretariat for Migration confirmed the information to the Swiss News Agency on Sunday.

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