Trade unions want more jobs, better wages

The Swiss Trade Union Federation has demanded more income for those on low and medium salaries, and a flexible retirement age. It also argued that more jobs had to be created in Switzerland.

This content was published on January 13, 2000 - 12:29

The Swiss Trade Union Federation has demanded more income for those on low and medium salaries, and a flexible retirement age. It also argued that more jobs had to be created in Switzerland.

Looking back over the past decade at its annual news conference in Berne, the federation president, Paul Rechsteiner, said that the rich had become richer and people on low and medium-sized salaries had tended to lose out.

"According to the December issue of the Bilanz economics magazine, the country's 100 richest people became SFr250 billion richer over the last ten years. That represents more than the public debt of the Swiss Confederation, the cantons and the communes," he said.

While Switzerland had never seen such riches before, some advocates of neo-liberalism in political parties, the media and the authorities were spreading fear that it was no longer possible to finance the social state.

Rechsteiner referred to the forthcoming debate on the 11th revision of the old age pension scheme as one of the most important issues this year. The revision would have far-reaching consequences for years to come, he said.

"We are calling for a flexible retirement age structure that people on low and medium salaries can afford. This is not the case under the present government proposals," he added

Monetary and financial policy in the 1990s also came in for criticism. The Federation claimed that some decisions taken by the Swiss National Bank had been a threat to jobs.

"We're demanding that interest rates stay low, that a policy of economic growth be pursued and that jobs be created. We still need hundreds of thousands of more jobs in Switzerland and the economic upturn now taking place must therefore be encouraged," he said.

By Robert Brookes

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