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Poll finds Swiss happy at work

Most Swiss workers are happy, but some face discrimination Keystone

Switzerland ranks among the top countries in Europe in which to work, according to the latest results of a survey of 31 nations conducted every five years.

This content was published on April 3, 2007 - 13:28

Swiss employees said they were more satisfied with their jobs and their work-life balance than most people taking part in the poll elsewhere.

However, the Working Conditions Survey conducted by the European Union found that Switzerland did not fare as well when it came to the number of women in management positions or safety in the workplace.

It was the first time Switzerland had participated in the EU study, which included one other non-member state, Norway, and EU candidate countries Croatia and Turkey.

Jean-Daniel Gerber, the head of the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs - which supervised the survey in Switzerland - said on Tuesday that 91 per cent of those questioned were satisfied with their jobs. This result put them only behind the Danes, British and Norwegians.

Gerber also said the Swiss had more input into the way they organised their work, and an above average number took advantage of further education opportunities paid for by their employers.

Only 12 per cent of the Swiss said their work-life balance could be better, while the EU average is over 20 per cent, with Greece bringing up the rear at more than 40 per cent.

But Gerber regretted that women and people in lower-paid clerical positions fared much more poorly. Only 21 per cent of those questioned said they had women supervisors.

Discrimination and danger

The survey also assessed discrimination of different types.

In Switzerland, an above average number of young female workers said their age put them at a disadvantage. And around six per cent of men questioned and nine per cent of women said they were bullied or harassed. The European median was five per cent.

But the authors of the study pointed out that the high values in this latter category for northern European nations like Finland (17 per cent) and low ratings for southern states (around two per cent in Italy, Spain and Bulgaria) "may reflect different levels of cultural awareness of, and sensitivity to, the issue as much as differences in actual incidence".

Worrying for Switzerland was the large number of people polled – about one-third - who said they were exposed to health and safety risks. This mainly affected workers in the agriculture, forestry and the construction sectors.

Swiss trade unions highlighted these negative aspects, seeing them as grounds to upgrade working conditions in the country.

"We are surprised that health risks in the workplace have not decreased," said Doris Bianchi of the Swiss Trade Union Federation.

Bianchi recommended the introduction of measures to improve health and safety and to promote equal opportunities for women.

Gerber told swissinfo that Seco would make efforts to close the gaps. "It's the responsibility of the cantons and we will work with them to ensure appropriate action is taken to pinpoint areas where improvements can be made."

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The fourth European Working Conditions Survey was conducted in 2005 by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

The aim of the foundation is to contribute to the planning and establishment of better living and working conditions.

It deals with the following issues:

- organisation of work, and particularly job design
- problems specific to certain categories of workers
- long-term aspects of improving the work environment
- distribution of human activities in space and in time.

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