Postal workers to begin protests over pay cuts
A last-ditch effort to avert industrial action by Switzerland’s postal workers appears to have failed.
A meeting between the communications minister, Moritz Leuenberger, and the two conflict parties ended without agreement.
The Communication Union said it was planning a first series of protests later this week to press its demands following inconclusive talks with Leuenberger in Bern on Tuesday.
It said the meeting ended without agreement after Swiss Post managers insisted on outsourcing and salary reductions.
A senior union official said he still hoped that an agreement could be found, but warned that plans were being made for disruption to begin on Thursday.
Leuenberger held separate talks with the head of Swiss Post, Ulrich Gygi, and the president of the union, Christian Levrat.
He reminded both sides of the terms of the collective labour contract, which foresees setting up a conciliation committee and a ban on staging protests.
According to a statement by the communications ministry, Leuenberger said Swiss consumers wanted a reliable postal service which would not be disrupted by industrial action.
A Swiss Post spokesman said management was interested in finding a solution in an attempt to avert disruption.
The union has accused Swiss Post management of reneging on a new collective labour contract, reached in June.
It said management wanted to create independent subsidiaries in a bid to reduce by 20 per cent the salaries of 270 employees.
Two weeks ago the Communication Union also threatened to consider staging strikes during the peak Christmas season, which would disrupt the delivery of letters and parcels.
However, another union representing postal workers, Transfair, said it would not join planned public protests, but instead press its demands in formal negotiations.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss Post employs about 56,000 people and handles more than five billion letters and parcel deliveries every year.
The state-owned company became autonomous in 1998 and certain postal services were opened to private competition.
Around 800 post offices are to close by 2006 in a bid to reduce costs following a nationwide vote earlier this year.
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