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Labour negotiations More Swiss construction workers go on strike

people marching

“Angry masons from Neuchâtel” reads the sign.

(© KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)

Following strikes in Ticino and Geneva earlier this month, 1,500 construction workers have continued the protest in French-speaking Switzerland. 

According to the labour unions, more than 1,500 workers from cantons Freiburg, Neuchâtel, Valais and Jura put their tools down on Tuesday. 

About 80% of construction sites in the canton of Neuchâtel were shut down – an impressive figure, said Edy Zihlmann, trade union secretary of the local branch of labour union Unia.

And in canton Valais, about 400 construction workers took part in a protest march leading to the office of the local builders’ association. According to Nico Lutz, head of Unia’s construction section, it was the first time that construction workers in Valais were protesting.

Unia vid

people marching

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+Some 3,000 struck in Ticino on October 15

+In Geneva, 1,800 went on strike on October 16

The strike, a relatively rare phenomenon in Switzerland, comes amid ongoing negotiations for a new union agreement in the construction sector. The current agreement expires at the end of the year. The striking workers denounced an alleged upsurge in temporary working on building sites, precarious job situations of older workers, and massive sub-contracting often leading to the use of cheap foreign labour. 

The next protest action is scheduled for Thursday in Bern; construction workers in other parts of Switzerland will follow next week.

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