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Swiss builders strike ends era of labour harmony

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Swiss builders strike ends era of labour harmony

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A silence descended on building sites in Switzerland as thousands of workers went on strike. It was something of a rare event in a country used to untroubled labour relations. Several cities, including Bern and Geneva, were affected by the 24 hour stoppage over a collective labour agreement.

Unions want employers to return to negotiations over a national working contract after the previous one was terminated last month. Protestors say they are in a state of limbo. “They don’t understand the work of a builder,” said one man. “A builder without a contract, without money… what’s that? It’s a shame.”

Others resented what they said was a lack of job security. “A good worker makes for a good boss and a good boss makes for a good workers. If there’s no national agreement there’s no trust, there’s nothing,” said another striker. Employers, who say they only want more flexibility described the strike as “unconstitutional.”