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Controls of pay levels deemed successful

Trade unionist Renzo Ambrosetti wants to boost the powers of the control committees Keystone

Rules set out to cut down on poor work conditions and low salaries, have been paying off according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). They were introduced in 2004 after the European Union free movement of people principle was taken up by Switzerland.

The overall number of suspected abuses and actual cases of wage dumping, where standard local salaries are undercut with cheaper alternative labour, have declined as a result of changes to the law and improved checks, SECO said in a statement published on Monday.

More than 40,000 companies and 158,000 workers, notably in construction and the restaurant trade, were checked by committees made up of employers, trade unions and the federal or cantonal authorities in 2013, an increase of 22% on the previous year.

The latest figures by SECO show that about 15% of the more than 12,000 companies in the European Union which sent employees to Switzerland were undercutting pay levels. That’s 4% up on the previous year.

In sectors with Collective Labour Agreements, about one in three of them were found to be violating Swiss regulations – a decrease of 9% on 2012.

Tip of the iceberg

Commenting the SECO report, the Trade Union Federation says abuses were much more widespread as the figures were incomplete.

Just over 224,000 people from companies based in the EU or European Free Trade Association countries were working on short term contracts in Switzerland last year – an increase of 11% compared with the previous year.

Over the past few years trade unions and centre-left parties have been campaigning for tighter checks in a bid to offset pressure on the Swiss labour market resulting from the free movement of people accord with Brussels.

In March the government announced plans to boost the number of inspections, to tighten sanctions and to extend Collective Labour Agreements.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR