Switzerland to open up domestic labour market

Teachers stand to benefit from a proposal to ease labour rules Keystone

The Swiss cabinet wants to do away with restrictive labour regulations in a bid to boost competition on the domestic market.

This content was published on November 24, 2004

Teachers, health workers, architects and hoteliers would be the main beneficiaries.

The economics minister, Joseph Deiss, said the draft law was not aimed at stripping the country’s 26 different cantons of their traditional rights.

However, he said it was essential for a small nation like Switzerland to remove hurdles in an effort to improve the country’s competitive edge.

Deiss added that the existing 1995 law was flawed because it allows cantons and local authorities to block free access to the labour market for non-locals.

Publishing the bill on Wednesday, the cabinet called on parliament to allow every citizen or company in Switzerland to offer their services across the country.

Under Switzerland’s traditional federal system, teachers, hairdressers, engineers or hoteliers can only work in the canton in which they have been granted an official licence.

Right to appeal

The new draft law also gives the green light for the Competition Commission to appeal against rules it considers unfairly hamper access to the labour market.

Deiss said around 250,000 people could benefit from the amended law and it would also ensure that they are not at a disadvantage compared with European Union citizens working in Switzerland.

But he warned against overrating the economic impact of a liberalised internal market.

A survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicted a modest eight per cent increase in Gross National Product over the next ten years.

The amended law is part of the government’s 17-point programme, revealed earlier this year, to kick-start the country’s stagnating economy. Other measures include cracking down on cartels.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

About 250,000 people, mainly teachers, health workers, architects, engineers, hoteliers and hairdressers stand to benefit from the amended law.
The cabinet says the proposed measures are aimed at boosting economic growth through increased competition.
The OECD predicts 8% growth over ten years as a result of more competition.
Increasing competition on the domestic market is part of the government’s programme to kick-start the stagnating Swiss economy.

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