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Redundancies confirmed at metal factory

The Reconvilier workers are facing an uncertain future Keystone

Swissmetal has announced that it will proceed with 112 redundancies at its strike-hit Reconvilier factory in northwestern Switzerland.

The company said the month-long industrial action earlier this year had resulted in a 30 per cent drop in customers.

Mediation talks between Swissmetal and union and employee representatives are ongoing as both sides seek to resolve the dispute over the future of the site.

The strike, which was halted on February 23, was called in protest against plans to close the plant, with the possible loss of 120 jobs.

Swissmetal said on Friday that the present situation had led to “the economic necessity of cutting 112 jobs”.

Workers were given their notice on Thursday.

Productivity down

Swissmetal said the strike action had resulted in a 50 per cent drop in production, with 60 of the 320 workers off sick.

However, the company said that, for the moment, it was committed to Reconvilier site and the remaining 200 jobs.

Reacting to the job cuts, the Unia trade union, which has been representing the foundry workers, said it wasn’t surprised by the news, commenting that Swissmetal was continuing “to do as it pleases”.

Canton Bern said in a statement that it regretted the redundancies.

A third round of mediation talks on Thursday came to nothing, with the government-appointed mediator Rolf Bloch saying that negotiations would continue. The possible sale of the site had also been discussed, he added.

Swissmetal said on Friday that it would hold talks over the next days with interested parties.

Wires and rods

The company had originally planned to concentrate its activities at another site in a neighbouring region, but keep a factory manufacturing wires and rods at Reconvilier.

The situation came to a head after Swissmetal announced that an “accelerated headcount reduction” of 120 positions would take place over the next two to three months.

It also announced the re-acquisition of a former subsidiary in Germany which carries out similar work to Reconvilier.

Workers have accused Swissmetal of reneging on an agreement reached last November over the company’s restructuring plans.

In 2004, they staged a major ten-day strike in a bid to force the company to keep the foundry open.

swissinfo with agencies

January 25: Reconvilier workers strike over restructuring plans.
February 9: Management announces an “accelerated headcount reduction” of 120 jobs. Swiss economics ministry nominates a mediator.
February 10: Swissmetal announces the acquisition of a former subsidiary in Germany.
February 13: Swissmetal sacks 21 members of the management at the Reconvilier plant.
February 23: Workers agree to go back to work on February 27.
March 24: 112 job cuts confirmed.

Swissmetal manufactures high-quality products from copper and copper alloys. Its clients are in the electronics, telecommunications, aviation, automotive, stationery and watch industries.

It intends to consolidate its activities between the sites at Reconvilier and Dornach, in canton Solothurn. Reconvilier is to concentrate on manufacturing premium wires and rods. Jobs are to be cut.

Reconvilier workers have contested the move. Some of the factory’s clients are said to be worried about the loss of the foundry and a rise in unemployment in the region.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR