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Federal Railways and staff reach landmark contract accord

Staff of the Swiss Federal Railways will have a collective contract from January 1 which includes a 39 hour working week and a new salary system, partly based on performance.

This content was published on March 3, 2000 - 12:23

Staff of the Swiss Federal Railways will have a collective contract from January 1 which includes a 39 hour working week and a new salary system, partly based on performance.

The agreement, still to be signed but agreed in principle, brings to an end the status of civil servant for employees which had been in place for 70 years. The Swiss Federal Railways became a state-owned limited company at the beginning of last year.

After what were described as "bitter negotiations" between management and staff associations on the thorny issue of job security, a compromise solution was found.

During the three-year validity of the new contract, the Swiss Federal Railways have pledged not to make redundancies for economic or organisational reasons.

The president of the Swiss Union of Transport Staff, Ernst Leuenberger, said that the unions for their part were expected "to continue to keep a critical eye on rationalisation measures, but accept them".

The short-term restructuring plan of the Federal Railways, which is not included in the new contract, foresees a reduction of staff from the present 28,500 to 26,125 by the year 2003. However, no redundancies are expected.

Commenting on the new salary system, the president of the Federal Railways, Benedikt Weibel, said: "From now on, assessment will be made according to the three criteria of job position, experience and merit."

The four staff unions involved said they were satisfied that payments for working nights, on Sundays and for irregular hours would also be included in the contract. Final approval of the new agreement is expected in June.

An accord has also been negotiated for the 3,700 employees who will be transferred next year to the joint rail cargo venture with Italian State Railways.

From staff and wire reports

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