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Unions want everyone to benefit from upswing

The unions are demanding more pay for workers Keystone

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions says the majority of the population should benefit from the current economic recovery in the country.

This content was published on January 5, 2006 - 16:29

Employers for their part are demanding more constructive cooperation among politicians, a balancing of the federal budget and improvements to the social welfare system.

The trade union federation president, Paul Rechsteiner, told a news conference in Bern on Thursday that since the economy was on the upswing, it was time for the majority of people on low and medium wages to feel it.

He said other priorities this year included combating the shortage of apprenticeship places and trying to introduce a flexible retirement model.

The federation is to launch a wage campaign with its affiliated unions to try to ensure equality of salaries.

It will in particular pay close attention to salaries of foreign workers who are now able to work in Switzerland as a result of the free circulation of people accord with the European Union.

It added that the cantons would have to supply concrete proof that they were serious about inspecting salaries and carrying out controls.

Maintain pressure

Rechsteiner explained that the unions would continue to maintain pressure if it were necessary.

He added that the federation would use new instruments in the law on professional training to try to ensure that every young person could benefit from an apprenticeship, whatever their background.

The unions will also be fighting government plans to raise the age of retirement for women from 62 to 65, in a bid to ease the burden on social welfare payments.

Their people's initiative for a flexible retirement, which was launched last June, is said to be almost ready for submission to the federal authorities.

If sufficient signatures are handed in, a nationwide vote will be held on the issue.

More chances

In a related development, the director of the Swiss Employers' Association, Peter Hasler, told Zurich's Tages-Anzeiger newspaper that women today had more chances to remain active professionally, even with children.

But he admitted that more efforts were needed for mothers to be able to return to work.

In an editorial in the association's periodical, its president Rudolf Stämpfli called for more constructive cooperation from the government and political parties.

He urged politicians to govern rather than oppose each other as the state of the federal finances and the social welfare systems represented a threat.

At present, he said, politicians were not doing enough to try to reduce the level of debt.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions includes 16 unions and has almost 380,000 members. It is neutral when it comes to religion and says it is independent of the political parties.

It celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2005.

The Swiss Employers' Association, which was founded in 1908, represents the interests of more than 70 employers' organisations.

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