by Thomas Kaiser
On Tuesday 16 June the general meeting of SWISS LABEL took place in Berne. At the beginning of the event the President of SWISS LABEL, National Councillor Ruedi Lustenberger, delivered a speech of highly political explosiveness. He determinedly and clearly opposed any aspirations that aim at abusing the Jubilee Year 2015 to dismantle the historical experiences of the Swiss as the basis for their unique political system and to turn the impact of history into its opposite. In his speech, Ruedi Lustenberger put the world back on its feet. He paid tribute to personalities who have played an important role in the history of Switzerland and in the development of our state, which forms the foundation of modern Switzerland. Moreover he mentioned that globalization, often depicted as a positive achievement of our time, has to be viewed critically. "Elementary principles, as they have been considered for generations, have been given too little attention.” This especially referred to the financial industry, which was largely responsible for the crisis starting in 2008. He also criticized a fiscal policy that spent more money than it had ever earned. Consequently many states were facing financial hardships, the consequences of which were not yet over. If one considered the current situation in the euro zone and especially the situation in Greece, Lustenberger’s words gain political topicality. The more important it seems to strengthen the national economy and to avoid mistakes that happened in recent years.
Ruedi Lustenberger thanked the Swiss enterprises “with a friendly confederate greeting” of the federal parliament house and joined this greeting “with a big thank you for your commitment to our country, our society, and of course, for your commitment to our national economy.” As the owner of a commercial enterprise he knew all too well about the current requirements on an entrepreneur, he said. “Especially in the present age where the economic environment has become increasingly difficult it is important that there are enterprises which rely on Swiss quality and show this with the crossbow, with the SWISS LABEL.” (see interview)
It is obvious that it is not just about economic aspects. So the statement “we are called up to increasingly remember our traditional values” is an important guide in a time when the nation-state and the related rules and laws of a country determined by the citizens, are increasingly under pressure from outside.
SWISS LABEL has set itself the objective of strengthening the Swiss economy and aims at assigning Swiss products the importance they deserve, and that at a time when often a (lower) price is in the short term more relevant than quality. Paying homage to globalization paired with a “free market” actually helps only multinational groups, where extra money is flushed into the coffers. Smaller and medium-sized enterprises face thus a competition with cheap products, which has little in common with free competition because the conditions under which these goods are produced in other countries are not comparable with the high standard of production in Switzerland.
Since it has been founded, the symbol of SWISS LABEL is the crossbow; that is why the 19-year-old crossbow archer Monika Hurschler, from Steinhausen, was among the guests of the General Assembly. Despite her young age she is among the best at this sport and has already ranked high in national and international competitions. In the crossbow World Cup 2014 in Frankfurt she narrowly missed a podium finish in the individual disciplines 10 m and 30 m kneeling, but she earned a well-deserved bronze medal with her two comrades in the team competition. She expressed her thanks for the support she had received from SWISS LABEL when participating in this exceptional sport. In addition to her work as a businesswoman, she trains 20 hours a week and is preparing to take part in the World Championships in Crossbow shooting. In a personal conversation the modest young lady told us that she had come across archery due to her brother 10 years ago and since then had remained loyal to this particular (national) sport. She looks at this sport as a “Swiss label”, because it belongs to the Swiss tradition and constitutes ultimately a symbol for Swiss freedom and independence.
For years the organization has been growing and has 700 members today. To the Association’s delight new members join each year. According to the association’s objective, it has to take in 10 per cent new members, annually. Last year it has exceeded this rate with 122 new members by a factor of two. According to association’s Secretary Stefanie Zehr, 66 new businesses or companies have already registered until 15 June this year. If the trend continues, last year’s number will be exceeded.
What was heard in personal conversations with members of the SWISS LABEL, reflects the concerns of entrepreneurs in a time with the greatest needs and highest requirements especially with respect to small and medium-sized companies. WTO rules and the bilateral agreements on public procurement particularly press on small firms. It is absolutely incomprehensible that state owned companies prefer foreign products, although the domestic Swiss products can keep up in regard to quality, but are a few per cent higher in price. The price differences are usually caused by the significantly higher wages in Switzerland, compared to those paid in foreign country regions close to our border. This in turn corresponds to the higher cost of living in Switzerland, ranging from social benefits to rental fees. To name just one example, it is absolutely irritating and incomprehensible that even the Swiss army may eventually order uniform-shirts in China. Already in 2011, 90,000 pieces of clothing for the Swiss army were produced in India.
SWISS LABEL intends to strengthen and promote the local economy and the work place Switzerland. Only a healthy middle class guarantees our prosperity and the preservation of our democratic state, which must continue to exist in an uncertain world, in the future as well and can serve as an example of best practice to other countries on our globe. Last but not least, we owe our inner and outer peace and our high standard of living in all areas of life to the direct democratic system which is in this way unique on our globe. In the following brief interview with the President of SWISS LABEL, National Councillor Ruedi Lustenberger, one learns more about SWISS LABEL and the requirements imposed on the companies which carry this label. •
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