Labor Relations in Switzerland
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In June 1999, the Swiss Post Office introduced a brand new computerized parcel sorting system, for which they paid SwFr150 million. A problem with the software led to such a total dysfunction that for days thousands of parcels piled up in the sorting center— the computers were useless. What did the postal employees and their unions do? Instead of complaining and making Luddite speeches, they just rolled up their sleeves and worked day and night to ensure that the mail was delivered.

With the possible exception of Geneva, most Swiss would be ashamed to strike and the idea would not even occur to them. And indeed there would be grounds for embarrassment. But even if there were reasons, several factors make strikes unlikely. First, the Swiss do not get their hands dirty and you can hardly find a Swiss among the lower paid workers (waiters, unskilled construction workers, cleaners, etc.). Most of them are first-generation immigrants who either work without a valid residence permit or are just too happy to be able to live and work in the country. Striking would not cross their mind, and indeed most union and far-left activists are second-generation immigrants. Since 1937 there has been the so-called “Work Peace Agreement” by which unions and bosses agree not to resort to strikes or lockouts in the event of labor conflicts.

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