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Union leader calls for more action

One of the leaders of the trade union movement in Switzerland, André Daguet, says unions have to be even more active than in the past, particularly in the services sector.

Writing in the "Bund" newspaper of Berne, Daguet, from the Swiss Metalworkers and Watchmakers Union, says that unions have to be more prepared for conflicts and for closer co-operation.

"Switzerland is the richest country in the world if you read the Swiss economic press. But the reality in which we live shows the other side of the coin," says Daguet.

"Every day, the unions are confronted with company closures, large job cuts, restructuring and mergers. We live in a country of company a country in which shareholders and stock exchange speculators can make gigantic profits overnight with mega mergers, the closing of companies and massive redundancies," he says.

Daguet in particular refers to algroup's plans to expand, and the planned closure of plants of the rail technology group, ADtranz, in Switzerland.

"What is happening at the algroup and ADtranz show how worldwide capitalism functions - success when it concerns the interests of capital, but socially blind as far as the employees are concerned, those who have made the companies successful," he says.

Although there has been more union protest action in Switzerland of late, it is still too weak, he argues. "The unions have to more prepared for conflict and co-operate more closely."

In particular, he says sales personnel and those people working in the hotel and restaurant branch are working in "precarious labour situations" with low salaries and unsatisfactory working conditions. Women are mainly concerned, he adds.

"In the services sector, the union movement is much too weak. It's a fact that company capitalism is moving faster than the union landscape. That has to change," says Daguet.

"We have to take counter-measures, be resolute and take the offensive if we want to turn around the economic trends," he adds.

by Robert Brookes

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