UNIA pushes for decent pensions, better wages and reduced working hours

UNIA, the Swiss affiliate of BWI, convened an "extraordinary congress" in Bern on October 21, attended by around 300 delegates. The event focused on reforming various statutes and the adoption of resolutions aimed at advancing campaigns on improved pensions, better wages, and reduced working hours, all while ensuring full wage and staff compensation for workers.

The gathering was preceded by a massive process comprised of over 30 online meetings wherein hundreds of members and workers took part and contributed more than a thousand ideas and other proposals. This began as early as 2021 as part of a mandate given by UNIA’s regular congress to continue to develop an inter-professional union for everyone, and to improve the use of resources. The union aspires to grow and broaden its relevance, while strengthening its anchor in workplaces.

After extensive deliberations, the congress delegates have identified three reform packages to jumpstart the reorganisation of their trade union work:

  • Clearer separation between strategy and implementation.
  • Increased member involvement in strategic decision-making.
  • Enhanced decision-making authority for professional committees in operational matters.

The first package aims to engage active members in strategic decisions by restructuring the central board. The latter two packages address the design and coordination of internal organisational units, with a focus on harmonising these areas for improved integration and coordination among a diverse range of industry and regional committees.

The congress also adopted three resolutions that will serve as the foundation for UNIA's campaign priorities, centering on the improvement of pensions, better wages, and reduced working hours. The first resolution, "Increase pensions, prevent social cuts," marks the launch of an active grassroots campaign for strengthening the AHV (OASI-Old Age and Survivor's Insurance), opposing the planned erosion of the second pillar pension fund, and resisting an increase in the retirement age. In 2024, this campaign will include three referendums: the unions' AHV×13 initiative and a pension initiative to reduce social benefits and increase the retirement age, both on March 3, 2024, as well as the revision of the occupational benefit regulation (BVG 21) in June 2024. The second resolution, "Strengthening purchasing power instead of maximising profits," calls for general wage increases, equal pay, reduced premiums, a 13th monthly wage, and a 13th AHV pension for everyone, recognizing that good wages are essential for decent pensions. The third resolution, "It’s high time for more time to live!," advocates for reduced working hours with full wage and staff compensation, emphasising the need for fair work redistribution.

Photos: UNIA