Swiss Post and unions representing postal workers have ended their dispute, lifting the threat of strike action over the Christmas holiday period.
An agreement was worked out on Wednesday among Swiss Post, the Communication and Transfair unions, after months of arguing over the collective labour contract.
At the centre of the dispute was a plan by Swiss Post to set up independent subsidiaries to carry out some of its operations.
Unions had argued that such a step would have resulted in pay cuts of 20 per cent for around 270 staff, in breach of an accord reached earlier this year.
The new agreement guarantees that working conditions for staff transferred to Swiss Post subsidiaries will be the same as at present.
“It’s a victory for common sense. Customers will receive their Christmas letters and parcels,” enthused Giorgio Pardini, vice-president of the Communication Union.
In concrete terms, the labour contract foresees that if jobs are outsourced to subsidiaries, the current regulations will apply as far as salaries, working hours and holidays are concerned.
The accord, which both sides have termed fair, has now to be approved by the relevant decision-making bodies.
It includes a basic contract that governs the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, as well as an ancillary set of regulations which allows for changes if the economy and competition call for them.
But modifications can only be made after further negotiations.
Swiss Post said it too was satisfied with the accord. Daniel Mollet, head of communications, said it allowed the company to be more flexible and competitive.
Earlier this month about 200 postal workers blocked four of Switzerland’s main sorting offices, after talks between Swiss Post’s management and the unions broke down.
At the time, union bosses accused Swiss Post of not respecting the new labour agreement. But they called off the action after five hours, following discussions with management and the police.
Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger had earlier tried to bring the two sides to the negotiating table but without success.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss Post, dubbed “The Yellow Giant”, ensures that 16 million letters and half a million parcels are delivered every day.
19,000 postal vehicles and 500 rail wagons travel half a million kilometres every day – equivalent to going round the world 12 times.
A fleet of 1,954 post buses carry 100 million passengers annually on a network covering 10,387 kilometres.
Swiss Post sells about 500 million postage stamps every year.
October 8: Swiss Post announces that 270 jobs will be outsourced. Unions argue that the move will lead to lower salaries than agreed in the collective labour contract.
November 23: An attempt to solve the dispute ends in failure. The following day Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger fails to bring the two sides together.
November 25: Postal workers block four of the country’s main sorting offices.
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