Switzerland: BWI closes ranks with striking masons 

Amidst the lack of agreement among social partners on the renewal of a national labour agreement covering Switzerland’s construction industry, thousands of masons and unions held demonstrations in the country’s different cities, including Geneva, on 7 November. 

In the spirit of working class solidarity, the Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) joined the demonstrations to express its support for the striking workers.  

The demonstrations, which began as early as 17 October, are protesting the deterioration of working conditions in the country’s construction industry. According to the unions, since February, negotiations have taken place with the Swiss Employers’ Association. 

However, despite six rounds of negotiations, the different social partners failed to reach a common agreement. The unions said that the employers are insisting on longer work hours, fewer rights for workers and pay cuts for older workers.

The striking masons denounced the flexibilisation of their working hours, including extended days during summer and forced holidays in the winter months. They also protested the employers’ refusal to increase wages despite the challenging economic situation.

The protesters also lamented the increasing number of work-related deaths in the construction industry. They said that there is one work-related death every two weeks. A minute of silence was held led by UN1A and SIT to pay tribute to construction workers who lost their lives while carrying out their jobs.