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Swisscom reaches agreement with staff



Switzerland’s biggest telecommunications operator, Swisscom, and its staff associations have reached an agreement on the key values regarding a social plan for employees who lose their jobs.

The measures, which have yet to be negotiated in detail, aim to make the restructuring process in the group’s core domestic business as socially acceptable as possible.

Swisscom announced plans in March to cut 6,000 jobs between 2001 and 2003.

It has taken Swisscom and the staff associations six weeks to reach agreement on the main points of the plan, which will come into force in January and replace the "Prospects" package agreed in May 1999.

The aim of the new plan is to avoid redundancies as far as possible. Under the new agreement every person affected should be offered socially-acceptable opportunities.

The emphasis will be put on quick re-integration into the employment market or arranging another solution. Proven tools such as the Swisscom labour market centre, start-up programmes and the employment society for long-serving employees will be continued but partially modified on the basis of past experience. The social plan should be agreed later this year.

In a report on Thursday, Swisscom management said that it was pleased that a fair package could be drawn up jointly in the interests of those employees concerned.

Despite the job losses, some 2,000 new jobs are being created in new branches such as e-business. Swisscom says it is reacting to an increasingly competitive market since the sector's liberalisation at the beginning of 1998.

At the end of 1999, Swisscom employed 21,777 people. This figure includes those who work for the German mobile operator, Debitel, in which Swisscom has a 74 per cent stake.

by Tom O’Brien

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