Unia, Switzerland’s largest trade union, says employers and cantons are not doing enough to prevent salaries sliding in the face of cheaper foreign workers.This content was published on February 1, 2005 - 16:02
The Swiss labour market is set to open to all 25 members of the European Union – a move which Unia fears will put even more pressure on pay.
Unia, which held a national day of action on Tuesday, says it is not opposed to plans to extend an agreement on the free movement of people to the ten new EU member states.
But the union wants measures approved by parliament in December to prevent wage dumping to be more strictly and speedily enforced.
Renzo Ambrosetti, Unia’s co-president, told a press conference in Bern that the number of wage-dumping cases had shot up since the easing of labour restrictions for some EU countries in June last year.
Opponents of the labour accord, including the rightwing Swiss People’s Party and a leftwing committee, look set to force a nationwide vote on the issue on September 25 this year.
Ambrosetti said some cantons, including Zurich, were not doing enough to prevent downward pressure on wages.
He added that there were too few inspectors to carry out checks and offenders were escaping punishment.
Last year parliament agreed to appoint 150 inspectors to ensure that Swiss companies did not try to take advantage of cheap foreign labour.
Ambrosetti also called on employers not to ignore collective work contracts and to ensure that they were properly enforced.
The union warned that workers were likely to vote against extending the accord if they did not feel adequately protected.
“The business world, which has an interest in seeing the free movement of people being extended, should stop attacking salaries, working conditions and collective labour accords,” said Unia’s Hansueli Scheidegger.
The union said it hoped that cantons would step up checks by the end of April. It added that some regional authorities, such as the border cantons of Ticino and Geneva, were already pulling their weight.
swissinfo with agencies
The free movement of people accord came into force in June 2004 and is part of the first set of bilateral agreements signed between Switzerland and the EU.
An additional protocol, approved by parliament last year, would extend it to the ten new EU member states.
The move is opposed by the far-right and extreme-left. If enough signatures are collected by March 31, a referendum would take place on September 25.
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