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Unions campaign for more social security

Rechsteiner speaks out against cuts in social security Keystone

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions has called for increased efforts to combat youth unemployment and a consolidation of Switzerland's social security system.

This content was published on January 5, 2007 - 15:05

The umbrella group said it would oppose moves to introduce corporate tax breaks and any weakening of the public service sector.

The federation's president, Paul Rechsteiner, said it was crucial to implement planned measures to combat joblessness among the young generation as the economy has picked up.

"Decisive steps should be taken to further bring down unemployment, instead of upping the pace for those who do have a job," Rechsteiner said in Bern on Friday.

The younger generation will have to pay a high price if nothing is done now, he added.

Latest figures are due to be published next week, but the official unemployment rate has been stagnating at 3.1 per cent while 4.1 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds are without a job.

Gross domestic product is likely to increase by 2.2 per cent while inflation is expected to be 0.9 per cent this year, according to the union's chief economist, Daniel Lampart.

He also called for a better legal status for employees with short-term labour contracts.

The percentage of people working under such conditions increased by a quarter over the past three years and represents nearly two per cent of the total productivity, according to the federation.

Social security

The federation, which claims about 380,000 members, says it will oppose moves by parliament to further lower corporate taxes on a federal level because it would lead to a drop in revenue for the old age pension scheme.

The unions dismissed a government warning that a plan for a flexible retirement pension age would create an economic burden.

The proposal launched by the Trade Union Federation demands that all people whose annual salary does not exceed SFr119,340 ($98,000) should be paid a full state pension from the age of 62 if they stop work.

Currently the retirement age is 65 for men and 64 for women.

The unions also called for measures to put the state invalidity benefit scheme on a sound financial basis.

Senior officials urged politicians to consider ways of consolidating the public service sector, including the Post Office, Swisscom and the national accident insurance company, rather than seeking ways of privatising it.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Official unemployment rate (November 2006): 3.1%
Youth unemployment (November 2006): 4.1%
Retirement age: 64 (women) and 65 (men)

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In brief

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions is made up of 16 individual unions with about 380,000 members. Founded in 1880, it has close links with the workers movement and the centre-left Social Democratic Party.

The other umbrella organisation, Travail Suisse, has 160,000 members and comprises unions with Christian roots.

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