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Free movement protection measures under scrutiny

Swiss measures designed to protect foreign workers may not be compatible with the agreement on the free movement of people, according to the European Commission.

High level European officials reiterated their concerns about the measures during meetings in Brussels with the new head of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The measures aim to protect foreign workers from salary undercutting. They were introduced on June 1, 2004, to accompany the entry into force of the progressive free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union.

Ineichen-Fleisch said that while it was clear there was a “certain frustration” on behalf of the Europeans, nobody spoke against continuing to implement the measures.

In May, a report on the control measures found more than a third of companies with collective work agreements had been caught underpaying foreign staff in 2010.

On Wednesday, the government said it has asked the economics ministry to examine ways to adapt employment law to target cases of false self-employment.

The ministry has been asked to examine the possibility of introducing tougher sanctions in cases of false self-employment and legal measures to force employers to adhere to minimum salary requirements of collective workplace agreements.

The ministry is due to deliver its report in autumn.

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