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Protestors question financial bail-out

Several thousand people have demonstrated against the government's rescue package for Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS.

The demonstration in Zurich on Saturday was organised by trade unions who in turn called for money to be invested into the state pension scheme. Around 3,500 people were present.

The Trade Union Federation and the country's biggest trade union Unia say the UBS bail-out should be subject to strict conditions and priority given to a programme to boost the economy and strengthen social security.

Last month the Swiss National Bank agreed to put SFr6 billion ($5.23 billion) into UBS, in a move that aims to strengthen the bank's capital base and reduce its balance sheet, and to lend UBS up to $54 billion so that it can part with bad securities.

The trade unions are behind a proposal to offer early retirement under the state-run old age pension scheme, which goes to a nationwide vote on November 30. The move aims to grant early retirement at the age of 62 to all those who earn less than SFr120,000 a year and wish to give up gainful employment.

Paul Rechsteiner, president of the Trade Union Federation, told protestors that the government's bail-out for UBS was a "gigantic" sum that was awarded to a single bank without the possibility of a referendum or popular vote.

He added that "these same people tell us now that we are unable to provide few hundred million" for the pension scheme.

He also called for higher wages for the majority of the population and an effective programme of economic revival.


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