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Switzerland – Masons ready to fight for better working conditions

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More than 250 masons from all over Switzerland gathered in Olten to discuss the upcoming renewal of the national convention. In particular, they are asking for better protection of their health.

After their assembly, the masons gathered on the Olten station bridge for a symbolic action.

Manu Friderich

This Saturday, more than 250 masons from all over Switzerland gathered in Olten (SO) for the general assembly of construction workers – their first central meeting of the year. They discussed the upcoming renewal of the national agreement (CN) for the main construction sector which expires at the end of the year and must be renegotiated, explains the Unia union in a press release.

Masons demand better working conditions. “The focus is on better health protection and on ending theft of hours,” says Unia. Among their demands are the following:

  • “Clear rules for stopping work during severe weather and extreme temperatures.

  • Shorter working days.

  • Better protection against dismissal for older workers.

  • Travel time fully paid, the end of the flight of hours.

  • One more week of vacation to compensate for the increasing pressure.

  • An additional paid break.

  • Clean sites with more toilets.”

Present in Olten, a delegation to the negotiations presented the position of the Swiss Society of Entrepreneurs (SSE): “longer working days, even more overtime and at the same time salary cuts. In summer in particular, working weeks of up to 50 hours should be the norm”, lists the Unia press release, which specifies that “in its public communication, the Swiss Society of Entrepreneurs openly threatens a contractual vacuum if the masons do not come into question on their demands for dismantling”.

Masons do not intend to stand idly by in the face of this “frontal attack”. “We build houses, factories, roads, bridges and tunnels. In this way, we ensure that everyone lives well, that companies produce and that traffic flows. Why is there so little respect for us and for our health?” summarized one of them.

To send a strong signal, they are now calling for a large demonstration on June 25 in Zurich. “We are ready to fight for better working conditions and for a good agreement!”, They warned.

In its press release, Unia explains that “the shortage of qualified personnel at all levels shows how necessary it is to improve working conditions in the main construction sector”.

This shortage can be seen in various ways: “The number of apprentices entering a construction trade has practically halved over the past ten years. One out of two masons sooner or later leaves the trade and changes branches. Finally, there is a growing lack of construction executives”.

(comm/aze)

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