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Strikes mooted over construction retirement age

Strikes mooted over construction retirement age

Tools downed temporarily at a construction site earlier this year, there is a mood for strikes, unions say

Unions on Friday threatened warning strikes for the building sector this autumn if the current retirement age of 60 for construction workers is dropped.

At a press conference on Friday, Switzerland’s biggest trade union Uniaexternal link, and the union Synaexternal link called for early retirement, as well as more worker protection and less temporary work on sites.

Their call comes one day before what is expected to be large demonstrationexternal link on construction workers’ rights in Zurich.

It also comes as the national working contract on the building sector is due to run out. Added to this is the impending retirement of the baby boomer generation. This is putting a lot of pressure on pension funds which finance the early retirement gap between 60 and 65 years old.

Retirement age, funds

In May, the Swiss Builders’ Associationexternal link, representing employers, announcedexternal link that there were not enough funds to finance early retirement and that workers would either have to work until age 62 or accept a 30% drop in pension.

But the unions do not accept this and have suggested that bosses and workers instead contribute more to the pension pot.

“Builders are also prepared to participate in the costs, they’ve clearly said that,” said the head of the construction sector at Unia, Nico Lutz. “In the past they have already given up on pay rises to better finance retirement at 60.”

Early retirement in construction was a success model and allowed workers to retire in dignity, Lutz added.external link

It was important to get both sides around the negotiating table, he continued. But if there was a stalemate, he was clear. “In autumn we will start with protests and warning strikes,” he said on Swiss public television RTSexternal link.

There is a mood for strikes, according to polls of workers on buildings sites, the unions said. They are also hoping for around 10,000 people at the demonstration in Zurich, according to RTS.

Strikes nevertheless remain relatively rare in Switzerland.

Full story here
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