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“Save Bilateral Agreements, but not at any price”

mw. In addition to a majority of national and cantonal parliamentarians of various parties, the trade unions (SGB and Travail.Suisse*) take a clear stand against a Framework Agreement which, according to Brussels, would not recognise essential principles rooted in the Swiss conception of law and the state.

“For a Framework Agreement, the EU must accept Swiss wage protection”

Adrian WŁthrich, President of Travail.Suisse and National Councillor Social Democrats Berne:
“Travail.Suisse supports [...] the Bilateral Agreements with the EU. With the free movement of persons, however, the protection of wages and working conditions of employees in Switzerland is pivotal. To this end, the accompanying measures (FlaM) were introduced, independently designed and implemented in a dual system of enforcement – involving the Confederation, the cantons and the social partners. Travail.Suisse finds it unacceptable that the FlaM will now fall within the scope of the Institutional Framework Agreement (InstA) and so will be weakened by EU regulations. This impairment would seriously endanger the support of the bilateral way.”

Source: WŁthrich, Adrian. Important and correct course set in European policy. Travail.Suisse from 7 June.

“This treaty has no chance without renegotiations”

Interview with Pierre Yves Maillard, President of the Swiss Trade Union Confederation (SGB), Radio SRF, “Echo der Zeit” of 26 June, by Simone Hulliger (excerpts)

SRF: Pierre Yves Maillard will travel to Brussels to the European Trade Union Confederation, where Switzerland has much support as the “champion of wage protection”. Does he see any room for compromise in the negotiations with the EU?

Maillard: We are still very far from a solution with regard to the Framework Agreement.

It’s also down to you, the trade unions. What ...

(interrupts): No, I wouldn’t say that, that is really a misrepresentation. We have been saying this for a long time, but now both chambers of Parliament have decided on clear demands; and we agree with parliament on the issue of wage protection. In other words, we want new negotiations in which we want to defend and protect our wage protection.

The EU says quite clearly that there will be no renegotiations.

Well, we take note of that. Then this agreement has no chance. [...] It’s not just about the eight-day rule [registration deadline for foreign companies providing services, mw], but we have very clear wage protection under federal legislation.
Even the Federal Court can’t do anything about this wage protection, because it can’t review federal laws, because we have no constitutional jurisdiction in Switzerland.
But with this agreement the European Court of Justice would have a decisive influence on our legal basis for wage protection [emphasis mw]. That is the fundamental problem we have. We must find a solution to retain autonomous Swiss wage protection.

And what should this solution look like?

This area must remain outside the mechanism of the adoption of EU law […].

But that is the key issue from the EU point of view, so it does not want to accommodate Switzerland here.

Yes, that’s why it’s so difficult. And we have the same problem with public service. […] The state [in Switzerland, mw] carries much more responsibility, the public service has better guarantees here than in many EU countries. […] We want to protect these legitimate peculiarities. […]

Mr Maillard, could it be possible that, if there is an escalation, for example also concerning the cohesion billion that our parliament is refusing to pay, this might be the beginning of the end of bilateral relations with the EU?

Of course the danger is there […].

Is it worth it?

Yes, it’s worth it. We want to save the Bilateral Treaties and also let them develop into the future, but not at any price. Not at the price of our wage protection and public service. Otherwise the population will say nay […].    •

*    Travail.Suisse is an independent umbrella association of employees representing ten associations with 150,000 members. Travail.Suisse commenced operations on 1 January 2003. The organisation was founded by those associations that were previously affiliated to the Christian National Union of Switzerland (CNG) and the Association of Swiss Employee Associations (VSA). (see https://www.travailsuisse.ch/portraet/aufgabe_und_struktur or https://translate.google.ch/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=https://www.travailsuisse.ch/&prev=search).