The ABB international technology group, which is based in Zurich, has announced a jobs freeze. The company also said that thousands of jobs would be cut worldwide by natural wastage.
ABB spokesman Thomas Schmidt told the Swiss News Agency that there would be no redundancies involved in the plan, which is aimed at cutting costs.
Schmidt said that several thousand jobs were no longer needed. ABB employed some 160,000 staff at the end of last year, with 8,200 employees in Switzerland.
The ABB spokesman said that all divisions of the group and all countries were taking part in the programme, which was already underway and would last several months.
He added that Switzerland would be affected in the same proportion as the rest of the group, namely by cuts of five per cent.
News of the job cuts sent shares in the Swiss-Swedish concern tumbling. The ABB share price at the close of trading on Wednesday was SFr23.40 ($13.28), down by 5.65 per cent from Tuesday's close.
ABB shares have fallen in value by about 50 per cent over the past 12 months.
The company reported in April slightly higher revenues and earnings for the first quarter compared to the comparable period in 2000 but said that orders had fallen by five per cent to $6.786 billion (SFr11.96 billion).
Turnover in the first three months was $5.38 billion - two per cent higher than the comparable period in 2000.
swissinfo with agencies