Tens of thousands rally in Switzerland to defend jobs

20th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland's economy shrank 0.3 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, according to statistics early this month.

Berne -- Some 30,000 people gathered in a rare show of force in the Swiss capital Berne on Saturday to defend jobs threatened by the global financial crisis.

The demonstrators, whose numbers were confirmed both by organisers and police, came from all over the country in response to a call by the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (USS).

"We have had enough of 'bonus knights' and managers with excessive salaries," USS head Paul Rechtsteiner said, according to the ATS news agency.

"We want a real short-term political approach which will stimulate growth," USS spokesman Ewald Ackerman told AFP, adding that the measures taken by the government were "very insufficient."

Ackerman said the economic outlook was "very worrisome.

"We are approaching four percent unemployment," he said, adding it was "a lot" for Switzerland.

Switzerland's economy shrank 0.3 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, according to statistics early this month.

The crisis-hit economy shrank 0.8 percent in the first three months of the year. Exports still contracted two percent in the second quarter but that compared favourably with a 6.1-percent shrinkage in the previous quarter.

September's data also showed that the economy had contracted by two percent in the second quarter on a 12-month comparison.

Switzerland's central bank is forecasting a contraction of up to three percent over the whole of 2009. It also predicts a fall in gross domestic product of between 1.5 and two percent.

The Swiss government has launched three programmes totalling 2.3 billion Swiss francs (1.5 billion euros / 2.2 billion dollars) since November to mitigate the effects of the global economic crisis.

Meanwhile on Saturday 400 Swiss milk-producers suspended deliveries in protest at low prices that are damaging their businesses, the industry association Big-M said in a statement, echoing similar protests in France and Germany.

AFP/Expatica

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