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Unions urge companies not to lay off staff

The Swiss trade union federation has called on employers not to make staff redundant despite the gloomy forecast for the country's economy.

At a news conference in Bern on Monday the federation said companies filled their coffers during the economic boom, enabling them to keep staff in hard times.

"No economisation should be allowed using the financial crisis as an excuse," said the federation's chief economist, Daniel Lampart.

Only in emergency situations should firms introduce a shorter working week. The federation called on the cabinet to increase from 12 to 18 months the length of time companies can implement such a measure.

The unemployment rate is expected to be on average 3.3 per cent this year, increasing to four per cent or 160,000 by the end of 2009.

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