The House of Representatives has followed the Senate in approving a way of implementing quotas on workers from the European Union that involves giving priority to local job seekers. However, the House settled on a slightly different version that requires less of employers.
Last week, the Senate voted for prioritising locals on the job market as a way of implementing the February 2014 vote to curb immigration from the EU. Its version of the compromise involved requiring employers to search for job candidates among unemployed locals before hiring from the EU, and justify any rejections in writing.
However, on Monday, the House of Representatives voted to leave out the requirement that employers justify rejections, finding it too much of an administrative hurdle. Instead, it decided that employers should simply have to report the result of the job interview to labour authorities.
In addition, both the House and Senate agreed on a clause that would require employers in certain branches with higher-than-average unemployment to post all job advertisements in local unemployment offices, giving job seekers in the country exclusive access to the ads.
The House of Representatives added the clause that employers should invite all qualified applicants to an interview and that the unemployment office should be able to choose candidates and send them to such interviews. Cédric Wermuth, a parliamentarian from the left-wing Social Democrats, argued for such a clause in order to give older job seekers a chance to be invited for an interview.
Whereas the Senate had restricted its new requirements to professions affected by an unemployment rate higher than the national average, the House of Representatives further restricted the requirements to specific economic regions.
And, cantons that are especially affected by cross-border workers should be able to appeal to the cabinet for special exceptions, the House decided.
In a broader sense, the larger of the two parliamentary chambers voted against all measures that clearly present a conflict with Switzerland’s bilateral treaties with the EU.
The conservative right Swiss People’s Party, which was behind the 2014 anti-immigration referendum, had called for stricter quotas and a true system of favoritism for local job seekers. However, the House voted down their version of the implementation.
The Senate and the House must now iron out the differences between their versions of the law before a final vote in both chambers on the final day of the winter parliamentary session.
However, the issue may not be resolved with that final vote, as the People’s Party could introduce another referendum against the decision. A pending initiative to remove the clause on immigration from the Swiss constitution could also present challenges to the quotas compromise.
swissinfo.ch and agencies