Swiss nurses demonstrate for better working conditions

Keystone / Anthony Anex

Four weeks before a nationwide vote on ‘strong nursing care’, nursing staff took to the streets demanding better working conditions.

This content was published on October 30, 2021

On Saturday afternoon, more than a thousand people marched to the parliament square in Bern in support of the so-called nursing initiative to be decided by the people on November 28. Health care professionals from all over the country spoke about the current needs of the health care sector.

Demonstrators held signs like "We save you, save us" or "Stop burn-out and exhaustion" to drive home their message. The demonstration was organised by the Alliance of Healthcare Professions, which brings together more than 10 professional and trade union organisations and is behind the “strong nursing care” initiative.

The text of the initiative calls on the federal government and the cantons to train enough registered nurses in Switzerland. It also wants the profession to be properly valued, which would be achieved by the government guaranteeing certain working conditions and setting salary rates.

Both the government and parliament believe that these demands go too far. The counter-proposal envisages improving the situation on the training front. But the authorities do not believe that a professional category should be enshrined in the constitution nor should the government regulate wages.

Besides the nurses' demonstration, more than 12,500 workers from the construction industry and other sectors also protested on Saturday in Geneva, Bern, Olten, Zurich and Bellinzona. They demanded better recognition of their work during the Covid-19 pandemic and more pay. The call to demonstrate was issued by the Unia trade union. Professionals from the building sector were joined by demonstrators from the care, sales and logistics sectors.

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