Reduced working week gets short shrift in parliament

The Swiss work an average of 42 hours a week Keystone Archive

The Senate has thrown out a proposal to shorten the working week to 36 hours, saying it would reduce Switzerland's competitiveness and encourage more illegal working. Voters are also expected to reject the proposal when it comes to a nationwide vote.

This content was published on June 19, 2001 - 10:40

Senators voted overwhelmingly against the proposal, which has already been rejected by the House of Representatives.

The initiative, by the Trade Union Federation, called for a gradual reduction in the working week to 36 hours, or a maximum of 1,872 hours annually. Currently, employees in Switzerland work an average of 42 hours per week.

Supporters had argued that reducing the working week would create an additional 250,000 jobs and bring labour conditions in line with other European countries, such as neighbouring France, which has a 35-hour working week.

The initiative's backers, mainly from the Social Democratic and Green Parties, also pointed out the health and social benefits for employees and their families.

However, opponents criticised the initiative as inflexible and impractical, saying it would threaten growth at a time when the economy is performing well.

They added that shorter working hours would damage Switzerland's competitiveness, and lead to job losses and an increase in illegal work practices.

Swiss voters have three times rejected proposals to reduce the working week over the past 25 years.

Under current laws, the maximum number of working hours per week varies from between 45 and 50 hours.

swissinfo with agencies

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