Parliament shelves debate on Social Charter

The right to strike is included in the European Social Charter Keystone

The House of Representatives has decided to postpone for the foreseeable future a debate on whether to ratify the European Social Charter.

This content was published on December 17, 2004 - 12:56

Parliament has been dragging its feet over ratification ever since Switzerland signed the Council of Europe’s treaty in 1976.

The charter, a sister agreement to the European Convention on Human Rights, came into force in 1965 and was renewed in 1996.

All countries wishing to ratify the charter are required to accept five of the seven articles contained in it which are regarded by the Council of Europe as "particularly significant".

The treaty deals with issues such as the right to work, to strike, to join a trade union, as well as social security, protection of the family and protection of migrant workers.

On Friday a majority of parliamentarians rejected a proposal by the centre-left Social Democrats to keep the issue of whether to ratify the treaty on the political agenda.

Radical Party parliamentarian Pierre Triponez said Switzerland would find it difficult to meet the ratification requirements.

He said laws would have to be adapted to take the articles of the convention into account and that any moves to do this would be opposed by the cantons.


Parliament first turned down plans to ratify the convention in the 1980s.

A proposal to ratify the accord was thrown out in 1996 after agreement could not be reached on how Switzerland’s labour laws should be changed to meet the convention’s requirements.

Two years later debate on the issue was again postponed pending an overhaul of the federal constitution.

Switzerland is one of six countries to have signed but not ratified the accord. The others are Macedonia, Liechtenstein, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The European Social Charter was signed in Turin on October 18, 1961.
It came into force on February 26, 1965.
It was renewed in 1996.
In Switzerland debate on the charter has been rescheduled four times since 1991.

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