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Economic woes hurt foreign workers first

Foreign workers are suffering particularly badly in the current economy as they are often the first to be laid off and have limited options for finding new work.

This content was published on July 16, 2009 - 14:27

Representatives from the Swiss Trade Union Federation said on Thursday that the economic crisis had affected migrant workers for longer and more drastically than other work groups. Unemployment among foreign workers in Switzerland is now 6.6 per cent, almost double the national rate.

One reason for the disparity could be that sectors that are particularly sensitive to business cycles – such as the construction industry – tend to employ more foreign workers.

Vania Alleva, vice president of the union, said that the pillars that migrants need for successful integration – such as residency, opportunity and social recognition – are often not there even in "normal" economic times.

"In times of crisis that threatens to crumble all the more," Alleva said.

To help combat the problem, the Swiss Trade Union Federation has proposed measures that would recognise foreign qualifications, introduce equal-treatment laws and make application processes anonymous for public administrative posts and certain jobs at large companies.

Currently there are about one million foreign workers in Switzerland, the equivalent of 25 per cent of the workforce.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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