Angry postal workers block sorting offices

Protesters outside the Haerkingen sorting office in canton Solothurn Keystone

Union leaders are threatening further industrial action after around 200 postal workers blocked four of Switzerland’s main sorting offices.

This content was published on November 25, 2004 - 10:29

The protests in the early hours of Thursday morning, which were condemned by management, came after talks between the two sides broke down earlier this week.

Union bosses, who have accused Swiss Post of not respecting a new collective labour contract, said the action was called off after around five hours following discussions with management and the police.

“We wanted to avoid any escalation [of the situation] and police intervention,” said Barnard Faillettaz, spokesman for the Communication Union.

The union said the protest had achieved its aim, which was to delay mail distribution. Officials stressed that the action was not targeted at customers but management.

“Today we have sent a very clear message to Post Office management: they have to listen to us. The ball is now in their court,” Christian Levrat, president of the Communication Union, told Swiss-French radio.

Richard Pfister, a spokesman for Swiss Post, justified the company’s decision to call in the police, saying protesters were stopping traffic from reaching the sorting offices.

He added that the company was prepared to resume negotiations with the union.


Thursday’s protests came after Communications Minister Moritz Leuenberger failed to break the deadlock during a series of meetings on Tuesday.

Leuenberger held separate talks with Levrat and Ulrich Gygi, the head of Swiss Post.

He reminded both parties of the terms of the collective labour contract, agreed in June, which foresees the setting up of a conciliation committee and a ban on industrial action.

The Communication Union claims management plans to set up independent subsidiaries would see the salaries of around 270 staff reduced by 20 per cent, breaching the new working agreement.

Two weeks ago union leaders threatened to consider all-out strikes during the peak Christmas season.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Swiss Post and the Communication Union agreed on a new collective labour contract in June.

Management announced plans last month to create independent subsidiaries affecting hundreds of staff. Union say the move will lead to pay cuts for those concerned.

An attempt on Tuesday by the communications minister, Moritz Leuenberger, to end the deadlock failed.

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