One of Switzerland's main unions has called for an offensive by the state in its industry policy to compensate for the loss of jobs in the military sector.
The call was made in Berne by the Industry, Construction and Services Union (SMUV) after presentation of an independent study into the economic burden of national defence.
One of the union's leaders, Beda Moor, said that the main SMUV goal was not to absorb the shock of job losses in the military sector with redundancy plans but to activate economic potential in companies and regions.
He said the Confederation and the cantons should provide encouragement to cushion the effect of the enormous structural changes that would take place over the next few years.
Moor also said that collective contracts had to guarantee there would be no worsening of labour conditions when armaments and military enterprises were privatised.
The study- prepared by historian Peter Hug - says that more jobs have been lost in the military sector than had been envisaged in a previous study of 1992. Some 19,000 jobs had been lost since then, instead of the 12,000 forecast.
The study also shows that since 1990, the number of jobs has practically been halved, from 40,490 to 21,400 today. According to Hug, that figure will surprisingly remain the same until the year 2012.
Hug argues that a so-called Redistribution Initiative from the left would save money and jobs, and bring improvements to Switzerland's competitiveness.
by Rob Brookes