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Construction workers vote to accept pay deal

The Swiss construction workers' union has voted to accept a compromise deal, officially ending a long- standing pay dispute in the country's building industry. The employer's association gave the settlement its blessing on Wednesday.

This content was published on March 25, 2000 - 15:45

The Swiss construction workers' union has voted to accept a compromise deal, officially ending a long- standing pay dispute in the country's building industry. The endorsement came after the employer's association gave the settlement its blessing on Wednesday.

The negotiations were marked by a rare government intervention in a country where industrial disputes are themselves relatively uncommon. The deal was brokered on March 16, when the economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, commented: "It was quite important for us to offer help, but it is unusual for the Swiss government to get involved in such a dispute. The last time this happened was in 1947. I hope in the next 50 years it won't be necessary for us to intervene."

The employers agreed to a pay increase of SFr100 a month starting on 1 July, while the unions accepted the introduction of more flexible working hours.

Both sides also accepted an extension to the statute of employment, which prohibits the right to strike. This was due to lapse at the end of March.

As to the cold weather payments provided when temperatures on sites drop, the government has agreed to safeguard them and eventually make sure they apply not just to the winter period.

The economics minister, who mediated the talks between the Builders Association and the construction unions, said the two sides had reached a compromise on pay and working hours, as well as extending the statute of employment by two years.

The unions had warned that failure to resolve the conflict would have a negative impact on a vote on bilateral treaties with the European Union.




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