Cigarette factory workers end dispute

Filtrona staff went on strike for a number of weeks Keystone

Workers at the Filtrona cigarette factory near Lausanne have ended a two-month stand-off with management.

This content was published on January 26, 2005

They voted on Wednesday to accept an agreement signed by the board of directors and staff representatives, which guarantees their jobs until June.

The accord also includes provision for a SFr2 million ($1.7 million) redundancy fund – far less than the SFr7.6 million originally demanded by unions.

“At the end of the day, the employees decided that this was the maximum that they could secure,” said Denise Chervet from the Comedia trade union.

“When your opponent is too strong, you have to know when to stop.”

Staff at the factory went on strike in late November over fears that the plant, which specialises in producing cigarette filters, would close.

The company then threatened to fire those taking part in the strike, claiming it was illegal. Mediation by the local arbitration office prompted a return to work two weeks later.

Difficult negotiations

However, intermittent breakdowns in negotiations with management led to workers downing tools on two further occasions.

The British-based multinational Bunzl bought the Crissier factor a year ago, integrating it into its Filtrona division.

Since the change of hands, the parent company has moved some machinery to Britain.

Filtrona employs nearly 5,000 people worldwide, including around 150 in Crissier.

Filters have been made on the Crissier site for more than 30 years, although the oldest part of the building was built in the late 19th century as a chocolate factory.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The British-based Bunzl group purchased the Crissier factory in October 2003 from Baumgartner Paper.
Around 150 people are employed at the factory.
The factory produces cigarette filters.

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