Construction workers in Zurich demand better working conditions and a fair contract

Progressive organizations and trade unions have demanded safer working conditions, fixed work schedules, and decent wages for construction workers in Switzerland

June 29, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
From the workers march in Zurich (Image via Unia)

On June 25, more than 15,000 people marched in the Swiss city of Zurich in a demonstration called by construction workers and trade unions. They were demanding fairer contracts and better working conditions. Trade unions, including Unia and Syna, on behalf of the masons and construction workers organized the rally, with laborers from other sectors and progressive groups including the Swiss Party of Labor (PST), Youth of Labor Party, Communist Party, Communist Youth, Movement For Socialism and more, participating in solidarity. In the mobilization, the workers expressed their opposition to work schedules dictated by the construction bosses and called for a new contract which includes better wages, a fixed time schedule, and safer work conditions.

The existing national agreement (CN) of the main construction sector, which dictates the working conditions of around 80,000 construction workers, will expire at the end of this year. Workers who are agitated due to exploitation, especially in regards to overtime work and working in precarious weather conditions, have demanded provisions for safe work conditions and a fixed time schedule in the new contract. Workers have also demanded a wage hike on par with soaring inflation and the rising cost of living. The unions have said that the “Swiss Society of Entrepreneurs wants to abolish entirely the calendar of working hours that allows the planning of working time.”

PST cadres marching (image via PST)

The Swiss Party of Labor (PST) stated, “The construction sector has a high unionization rate compared to other sectors and is therefore the most organized is also important. The struggle in the construction sector therefore has a role as a model. If construction workers lose this important struggle and working conditions deteriorate, it is almost certain that the consequences will be catastrophic for all other sectors.”

PST has demanded clear rules on work times in case of bad weather, shorter workdays, more protection for older workers, fully paid travel time, one more week of vacation and paid breaks for the construction workers. The party has also demanded that the government tackle the cost of living crisis, and to reform the Federal Insurance Act (LAMaL) for the benefit of the workers and common people of the county.

(Image via PST)

Towards the mobilization on June 25, the Communist Party stated that “on construction sites, the pressures due to delivery times are increasingly strong at the expense of the quality of work, but above all the growing stress can lead to accidents (often even lethal) and thus compromise safety in the workplace: cases of disability after forty years of age are in fact high. Some builders even threaten to abolish the contracts if the unions do not accept wage cuts and an increase in overtime within the 50-hour week. We are talking, in that case, of a drastic worsening of working conditions: a blackmail that should not be accepted.”