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Thousands demonstrate over job cuts

More than 5,000 people took to the streets in Italian-speaking Switzerland on Saturday to protest against job cuts by the cargo division of Swiss Federal Railways.

The demonstration in the southern town of Bellinzona comes a day after it was announced that more than 400 posts would be shed nationwide to help lift the freight operation out of the red.

Swiss Federal Railways Cargo, which is state owned, suffered a loss of SFr190 million ($185 million) last year.

The protest was to show solidarity with the 430 workers at the Bellinzona locomotive repair facility, who have been on strike since Friday morning. Around 126 jobs are expected to go at the site. The strikers say they will continue until cargo bosses back down.

People at the demonstration said that they wanted to say no to globalisation, as well as send a signal to the federal government.

“We want to build up an important representation so that Bern will listen to us, the railways’ decision will be stopped and negotiations to find a solution with perpectives for the future will be started,” parliamentarian Fabio Pedrina told swissinfo in Bellinzona.

In all, three other sites, in Basel, Fribourg and Biel, are affected by the cuts.

The company is aiming to cut spending by SFr70 million annually with the lay-offs. A further 200 jobs will be relocated.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR