On 1 March, IndustriALL joined 12,000 people in a mass demonstration in Berne to protest against last month’s anti-immigration vote in Switzerland.
On 9 February, Swiss people went to the polls to vote on imposing quotas on immigrants. The divisive policy was voted through by a narrow majority of just 50.3 per cent. On 1 March, a delegation from IndustriALL joined members from affiliate Unia and other Swiss unions in a rally in front of the Swiss parliament to fight discrimination.
Trade unions have condemned the segregationist initiative, which strikes at the core of Europe’s liberties and the freedom of workers to make a living everywhere in Europe. Although Switzerland is not part of the European Union (EU), the country is linked with the EU through numerous bilateral agreements, including pacts covering freedom of labour.
Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, participated in the demonstration and said:
“We support the Swiss trade unions in their struggle for an open and tolerant Switzerland. Not only are 20 per cent of all people in Switzerland foreigners, more than 30 per cent of all employees are from abroad. Take the IndustriALL office as an example; it is made up of 26 different nationalities."
“As creators of Swiss wealth immigrants have the right to be here and be treated in a non-discriminatory manner. Our support for the 49.7 per cent Swiss voters who said ‘no’ to this initiative, as well as the 20 per cent foreigners living in Switzerland, will continue.”
Together with Swiss Trade Union Confederation and other partners, Renzo Ambrosetti, Unia, and the Swiss trade union movement promises to campaign against all discriminatory legislation on residence permits.
Unia’s co-chairman and member of IndustriALL’s executive committee Renzo Ambrosetti states:
“This decision is a huge setback for immigrants to Switzerland, for trade unions and for all progressive forces. It will lead Switzerland up a blind alley.”