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Unions step up opposition to EU treaty

Trade unions leaders, including Paul Rechsteiner (centre) are concerned about wage dumping Keystone

Trade unions have criticised the Swiss authorities for failing to prevent wage dumping since it became easier for European Union citizens to work in Switzerland.

This content was published on October 21, 2004 - 14:41

Leaders are threatening to oppose a planned extension of the treaty on the free movement of people to the new EU member states.

“Wherever we carry out checks we find serious abuses and cases of wage dumping,” Paul Rechsteiner, president of the Federation of Trade Unions, said on Thursday.

He accused the authorities in the key regions of Zurich and Bern of failing to conduct regular and effective checks.

Rechsteiner said wage levels were coming under pressure, and cheap foreign labour was preventing a recovery of the employment market.

Other senior union officials added that a lack of controls made it difficult to monitor the labour market across the country.

Sanctions

Rechsteiner warned that the Federation of Trade Unions would challenge the extension of the agreement on the free movement of people to the ten new EU member states.

He said increased efforts had to be made to combat abuses and he called for tougher sanctions.

He also urged parliament to adopt further measures to prevent wage dumping.

Vasco Pedrina, co-president of Switzerland’s largest single trade union, Unia, said members at last weekend’s founding congress were keen to block any extension of the treaty.

The accord, which has come into effect gradually since the middle of 2002, gives EU citizens access to the Swiss labour market.

Parliament is likely to discuss extending the scope of the agreement by next March. It is also due to debate a second set of bilateral treaties with the EU in the next few months.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Federation of Trade Unions has warned it will oppose plans to extend access to the Swiss labour market to the ten new EU members.

The federation wants a series of measures to prevent wage dumping, notably the right to impose quotas for foreign workers until 2014.

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party has already announced it will force a nationwide vote on the issue.

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