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Foreign worker numbers may be cut

The government is set to decide whether to limit the number of foreign workers in Switzerland in response to rising unemployment, an economics ministry official says.

There is a legal basis for making such a decision, Serge Gaillard, head of the labour directorate at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), told Sunday's edition of Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.

The cabinet will decide in the coming weeks whether to restrict the number of employees that firms can recruit from abroad, he said.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf is overseeing a dossier being compiled on the issue and a ministry spokesman confirmed the cabinet would be taking a decision in the near future.

The Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that the cabinet would discuss the issue on Wednesday.

A clause in Swiss bilateral accords enables the government to limit numbers of work permits for people from 15 European Union member states, as well as Cyprus and Malta.

The measure can be enforced for up to a maximum of two years.

Unemployment in Switzerland is currently at 3.5 per cent, the highest level in three years. with agencies