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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire #224 - Swiss Peace work for employers (fr) [machine translation]

Date Thu, 07 Mar 2013 14:48:13 +0200


In 1937, a large strike allowed Switzerland signed the first national sectoral agreement in the field of watchmaking. If its contents constitute a breakthrough, the tribute to be paid by the labor movement was heavy and continues to be felt. -- The Swiss Confederation likes to present itself as a place where consensus prevails. The reasons for conflicts Yet there for employee-es in a country elects a little expanded labor code, preferring branches sectoral agreements. This calm is only apparent although the struggles are rarely made much noise. In Europe between the two world wars, the organization of the labor movement has achieved some victories. In 1937, when several workers and workers from the Swiss Jura watchmakers launch a broad strike movement no doubt that they have in mind the progress made by their neighbors. Given the scale of the movement, the federal government requires employers to sit at the negotiating table, not to help workers and workers in their struggle, but to avoid the contagion of the strike to other cantons. An agreement is signed on 15 May 1937.

No right to strike

Historically, some corporations had used industry-wide agreements. But he signed in the watch industry - an area already significant export to Switzerland - has a special meaning. Indeed, it is clearly stipulated that employers are committed to continuous improvement of working conditions, workers will in turn give up the right to strike. Future claims go through staff representatives, which have two seats in five boards. These representatives tacitly become the guarantors of the continuation of the agreement, ensuring that over the years no strike or trigger movement in the factories, so far with success.

The agreement quickly gave rise to the establishment of collective labor agreements (CLA) and was taken as a model by other major branches. These ratify clearly the benefits acquired as the granting and duration of paid leave or accrued weekly working time. STCs are validated and renegotiated every five years with the risk of losing benefits. Although often put forward by the Swiss Confederation to celebrate what is called in the 1950s "peace work", the CTC by their sectoral nature never apply to all employee- are only the branches concerned. Women were the big losers of the agreement and in 1937: equal pay claim was a strike but was hardly defended at the signing of the agreement and the claim fails. Other losers unions struggle were gradually excluded because considered not legitimate to discuss with employers. If CTC were generally respected in regard to the continuous increase in wages - at least for the watch - keeping them is now challenged by new management teams who fail to recognize and meet little resistance from employee-are poorly organized. It does not catch up so fast 75 years of sleep.

Nico G (AL Paris North East)
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