Civil service mounts public challenge to government reforms

Swiss civil servants are appealing to voters to block government plans to reform the public service. They have forced a referendum on the proposed Federal Personnel Law, which they say threatens their wages and job security.

This content was published on July 13, 2000 - 18:55

The main public service association handed in a petition to parliament on Thursday with more than 94,000 signatures, protesting at the proposed reforms.

Under Swiss law, 50,000 signatures are needed to force a referendum opposing a change in law, and the issue will now go to a nationwide vote on November 26.

Civil servants say the new law would damage public services and lead to lower wages, longer working hours and less job security.

Opposition to the proposals was strongest in Italian- and French-speaking regions where more than half of the signatures were gathered. In canton Ticino nearly 14,000 signed the petition; in the French cantons the number was 35,000. Most signatures in German-speaking Switzerland came from Zurich and Berne.

The petition was supported by a wide cross-section of public sector workers, including railway workers, post office employees, customs and excise personnel, the police, rubbish collectors and civil servants.

Green groups and the Federation of Trade Unions also came out in support of referendum.

In a statement the finance ministry said the "Federal Personnel Law" needed to be modernised since it dated from 1927. It also maintained the proposed new law would guarantee secure employment for public service workers.

swissinfo with agencies

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.